With a nearly infinite respository of data on every desk thanks to the internet, including judges’ desks, it should come as no surprise that some judges have been tempted to undertake some independent fact-finding in seeking the best resolution of matters pending before them.
Such was the case for the U.S. District Court, District of South Dakota, when there was a question whether one person had authority to bind another person in a complex settlement involving many parties in the context of a bankruptcy.
Among other things, the district court took judicial notice of facts gathered from the web showing the close relationship of one of the individuals to the other (that is, a book written by one of the two showing close ties). The Eighth Circuit highlighted the law and the requirements of Fed. R. Evid. 201 regarding judicial notice, and found the trial court had abused its discretion in taking judicial notice of information that it had obtained outside the record of the case (by failing to give notice and opportunity to object to the evidence, failing to establish foundation).
American Prairie Construction v. Hoich, Eighth Cir. Case No. 08-1288 (filed 3/24/09).