When a court-appointed special master last year rejected the claim of an Alabama couple that their daughter had suffered seizures after a vaccination, she explained her decision in part by referring to material from articles in Wikipedia, the collaborative online encyclopedia.However:
The reaction from the court above her, the United States Court of Federal Claims, was direct: the materials “culled from the Internet do not — at least on their face — meet” standards of reliability. The court reversed her decision.
A simple search of published court decisions shows that Wikipedia is frequently cited by judges around the country, involving serious issues and the bizarre — such as a 2005 tax case before the Tennessee Court of Appeals concerning the definition of “beverage” that involved hundreds of thousands of dollars ...
[Judge Richard A. Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit] recently cited a Wikipedia article on Andrew Golota, whom he called the “world’s most colorful boxer,” about a drug case involving the fighter’s former trainer, a tangent with no connection to the issues before his court.
[Posner] did so despite his own experience with Wikipedia, which included an erroneous mention of Ann Coulter, a conservative lightning rod, as being a former clerk of his.
“I have never met Ann Coulter,” he said, but added that he was heartened that the friend who spotted the error could fix it then and there.