judicial notice

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Judicial notice is a method used by a court when it declares a fact presented as evidence as true without a formal presentation of evidence. A court can take judicial notice of indisputable facts, usually for purposes of convenience. If a court takes judicial notice of an indisputable fact in a civil case, the fact is considered conclusive. Judicial notice can be granted upon request by a party to the case or may be sua sponte, where the court takes notice of the fact on its own volition. Judicial notice is also known as judicial cognizance or judicial knowledge.

In federal courts, the application of judicial notice is governed by the Federal Rule of Evidence 201, which reads:

Rule 201. Judicial Notice of Adjudicative Facts 

  • This rule governs judicial notice of an adjudicative fact only, not a legislative fact.
Kinds of Facts That May Be Judicially Noticed. 
  • The court may judicially notice a fact that is not subject to reasonable dispute because it:
Taking Notice. 
  • The court:
    • may take judicial notice on its own; or
    • must take judicial notice if a party requests it and the court is supplied with the necessary information.
  • The court may take judicial notice at any stage of the proceeding.
Opportunity to Be Heard. 
  • On timely request, a party is entitled to be heard on the propriety of taking judicial notice and the nature of the fact to be noticed.
  • If the court takes judicial notice before notifying a party, the party, on request, is still entitled to be heard.
Instructing the Jury. 
  • In a civil case, the court must instruct the jury to accept the noticed fact as conclusive.
  • In a criminal case, the court must instruct the jury that it may or may not accept the noticed fact as conclusive.