In the concurring opinion, Judge Voros says that "getting a sense of
the common usage or ordinary and plain meaning of a contract term is
precisely the purpose for which the lead opinion here cites Wikipedia.
Our reliance on this source is therefore, in my judgment,
On this, he is grossly mistaken. A Wikipedia entry may reflect the
common usage. Most of the time, for most entries, it probably does.
On the other hand, it may not. And an appeals court judge shouldn't
be digging through the edit history to figure out which one it is.
This type of analysis should, if at all, be done by an expert witness,
who could be cross examined by the opposing counsel.
As it stands, all the Wikipedia entry showed was that at one point one
person wrote what happened to appear there at the time when it was
On Thu, Aug 16, 2012 at 10:23 PM, Mark <delirium(a)hackish.org> wrote:
Making the blog-rounds, there was a Utah court case
surprisingly lengthy (and generally positive) discussion on whether and when
to cite Wikipedia in court decisions:
See footnote 1 (page 5) in the majority opinion, and a separate concurring
opinion filed by another judge solely on the Wikipedia-citation question
(starts on the bottom of page 7). My favorite part is where they cite the
Wikipedia article "Reliability of Wikipedia" as part of the analysis.
Embarrassingly, the article of ours they cite, [[Jet Ski]], is actually in a
sort of sorry state. But they seem to do so only for the relatively mundane
usage note in the opening paragraph, which explains that "Jet Ski" is a
trademark, but is often used imprecisely, in colloquial usage, to refer to
other similar devices not manufactured by Kawasaki. I guess the OED doesn't
have a note on that yet? Or maybe they don't have OED subscriptions over at
the court? Alternately, maybe they just liked the way we worded the
explanation and wanted to quote it rather than re-explaining the same thing
in their own words.