Wikipedia Made Law? The Federal Judicial Citation of Wikipedia.


Amber L. Wagner


VOL. XXVI • Winter 2008 • NO. 2 (table of contents)

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26 John Marshall J. of Comp. & Info. Law 229


In this comment the author examines the new and growing body of federal opinions citing Wikipedia an authoritative source. The comment details how Wikipedia articles are generated, and the ease with which anyone can edit them, to illustrate their shortcomings as sources for making judicial determinations. The author provides examples of federal cases where judges rely on Wikipedia to define terms ranging from colloquial phrases to medical equipment. The author points out that in spite of several academic institutions and the U.S. Trade and Patent Office banning it as a source, federal judges continue to rely on Wikipedia in their decision-making. Upon a thorough analysis of Wikipedia articles’ credibility and volatility, the author concludes by proposing a rule to ban Wikipedia citations from federal judicial opinions, orders, judgments, and other written dispositions.

Author Footnote:

Amber L. Wagner, J.D. Candidate 2010, The John Marshall Law School. Amber is the Managing Editor of JCIL, a clinical student at The John Marshall Law School Veterans Legal Support Center, Vice-President of the Military Law Society, Secretary of the Veterans Law Society, and a member of the Navy JAG Corps Moot Court Team. She is also on the Moot Court Council, treasurer for the Public Interest Law Council, and an active member of Habitat for Humanity. She plans to work as an Army Judge Advocate upon graduation.

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