Wikipedia Not Legal Authority in US Federal Courts

10 April 2011 Internet, IT & e-Discovery Blog Blog
Authors: Peter Vogel

Although Social Media users rely on information posted on Wikipedia, a recent ruling in a US Federal Court is a reminder that US Federal Courts refuse to accept Wikipedia as a credible source. U.S. District Judge Charles Simpson of Louisville, Kentucky recently denied a new trial for Karen Sypher who was convicted of trying to extort money from University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino. In his order Judge Simpson wrote:

...defense counsel appears to have cobbled much of his statement of the law governing ineffective assistance of counsel claims by cutting and pasting, without citation, from the Wikipedia web site

... The court reminds counsel that such cutting and pasting, without attribution, is plagiarism.

... Finally, the court reminds counsel that Wikipedia is not an acceptable source of legal authority in the United States District Courts.

Even though the Smithsonian Institution is now teaming up with Wikipedia that does not validate Wikipedia postings for the Courts. As time moves on Wikipedia may be a reliable source for the Courts, but when is still unpredictable.

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