Surfing The Web: Authenticating Out-of-State Legal Documents

Many practitioners puzzle over how to admit in to evidence legal documents from other states.  But, in the digital age, there appears to be a ready answer to this dilemma.  

Judicial notice can be defined as the authority of the court to accept as fact certain matters that are of common knowledge from sources that guarantee accuracy or are official records — without the need for evidence establishing the facts.  But do digital records pulled off an official website qualify for judicial notice? 

Camilla Lowther Management v. Majestic Mills, 653137/11 (Feb. 11), appears to answer that question.  There the special referee took judicial notice of print-outs from a website, purporting to be complaints filed in a California court, which plaintiff was attempting to introduce into evidence.  The plaintiff provided the documents, along with an affirmation detailing the process he used to access and print the documents.  Plaintiff further affirmed that the documents were true and accurate representations of the records appearing on the official California court website. 

The special referee accepted the documents over objection, noting that the documents were a hearsay exception as a public record.  Furthermore, the special referee ruled that the safeguards regarding authenticity under CPLR § 4518(a) and New York Technology Law § 306 were met permitting the pleadings filed in the California court to be taken into evidence by judicial notice despite not being certified.

Special thanks to Johan Obregon for his contribution to this post.   For more information, please contact Dennis Wade at dwade@wcmlaw.com.