Especially now in the current economic climate, people are looking for ways to save money in discovery at trial. In fact, my partner, Jennifer Weisberg Millner recently blogged about this.
In an interesting recent Appellate Division case, not related to family law, but interesting nonetheless, the Appellate Division held that Wikipedia was too malleable to be reliable as evidence. In that case, the plaintiff relied on a Wikipedia entry to help trace ownership of a credit card debt in order to establish standing to bring suit. While the trial court allowed this, the decision was reversed by the Appellate Division.
The rationale for the decision is that anyone can edit Wikipedia and the site itself contains a disclaimer that content may have been recently changed, altered or vandalized. Thus, while the Rules of Evidence allow judge’s to take judicial notice of specific facts and propositions of generalized knowledge capable of immediate determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned, Wikipedia was determined to not be one of those sources.
The lesson to be learned from case is that if you intend to rely on something from the internet, make sure that it is reliable and cannot be questioned.