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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Wikipedia in State Courts - Part 3

In the last few months, I have posted about citations to Wikipedia in decisions from the federal courts of appeals and in decisions from federal district courts. Now, to complete the trilogy, I'd like to briefly report some statistics regarding Wikipedia citations in state court decisions.

As of this writing, based upon an examination of search results performed using both lexis.com and Westlaw, there have so far been 214 decisions from the various state courts that cite to Wikipedia. (Decisions that merely mention Wikipedia, usually in the context of addressing a litigant's use of the website, were excluded.) Of those, 175 have been since 2007, the cut-off used in the past postings, which stems from a report that was posted to the Wall Street Journal Law Blog.

Before I go any further, I'd like to point out the limitations of this analysis. Although practically every federal decision since Wikipedia's release in 2002 is available through lexis.com and/or Westlaw, the same can not be said about state court decisions. With a few exceptions, neither service provides access to the multitude of states' trial court decisions. Similarly, there is no guarantee that every unpublished state appellate court decision is acquired by at least one of the services. Accordingly, I have no way of knowing whether or not there is a pandemic of trial court judges citing to Wikipedia. If there is, there is relatively little evidence of it at the state appellate levels.

Having pointed out the limitations to this study, I must admit that I'm surprised at how little Wikipedia is being cited by state appellate courts! If you'll remember, as of my last post on this subject (dated May 30, 2012), Wikipedia had been cited in 436 federal district court opinions since 2007. Although I decided not to take the time to update that statistic for this report, I know that there have been more citings in the last couple of months. Despite the many more state appellate court jurisdictions, judges, and decisions, federal district court judges have produced more than twice as many Wikipedia-citing decisions than state appellate court judges!

Seventeen of the states have had no appellate court judge cite to Wikipedia at all, and another two have not cited to Wikipedia since before 2007. Another nine have only released one decision that cites to Wikipedia. Here are the top eleven Wikipedia-citing states:

State # of Citing Decisions (since 2007)
California 30
New York 23
Connecticut 19
Texas 11
Alaska 8
Indiana 7 (+ 4 before 2007)
Florida 7
Ohio 7
Washington 7
Michigan 6 (+ 4 before 2007)
Louisiana 6

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