Courts Can Now Use Google Maps: N.Y. Law Amended to Allow Courts to Take Judicial Notice of Information from Web-mapping Services
I often use Google Maps, the Westchester County Geographic Information Systems, and other web-based mapping services in my cases to find visual information about specific locations around the world that are relevant. Using those maps during depositions is easy. But getting those maps admitted into evidence at a trial or hearing would require an evidentiary certification from the custodian of the image that could be difficult and time consuming. Not anymore.
The New York State Legislature recently amended § 4511 of the Civil Law and Practice Rules (“C.P.L.R.”) to require courts to take “judicial notice” of digital mapping images and related information. Courts can take judicial notice of a fact when it is a well-known or indisputable, proven fact.
The new § 4511(c) reads:
“Every court shall take judicial notice of an image, map, location, distance, calculation, or other information taken from a web mapping service, a global satellite imaging site, or an internet mapping tool, when requested by a party to the action, subject to a rebuttable presumption that such image, map, location, distance, calculation, or other information fairly and accurately depicts the evidence presented. The presumption established by this subdivision shall be rebutted by credible and reliable evidence that the image, map, location, distance, calculation, or other information taken from a web mapping service, a global satellite imaging site, or an internet mapping tool does not fairly and accurately portray that which it is being offered to prove. A party intending to offer such image or information at a trial or hearing shall, at least thirty days before the trial or hearing, give notice of such intent, providing a copy or specifying the internet address at which such image or information may be inspected. No later than ten days before the trial or hearing, a party upon whom such notice is served may object to the request for judicial notice of such image or information, stating the grounds for the objection. Unless objection is made pursuant to this subdivision, or is made at trial based upon evidence which could not have been discovered by the exercise of due diligence prior to the time for objection otherwise required by this subdivision, the court shall take judicial notice of such image or information.”
So, § 4511(c) creates a rebuttable presumption. Any party can ask a court to take judicial notice of the web mapping service images or information. No evidentiary showing is required, but requesting parties must notify their adversaries at least thirty (30) days before a trial or hearing. The adversary must then object no later than ten days before the trial or hearing, stating the grounds for the objection, which must include “credible and reliable evidence” that the image or information “does not fairly and accurately portray that which it is being offered to prove.” If the adversary fails to make a timely objection (unless new facts are learned after the objection deadline), the court must take judicial notice of the image or information.
This is a very practical amendment to the C.P.L.R. that will promote efficiency by saving time. We all rely on these web mapping services in our everyday lives. There is no reason that the courts should be any different.
At Bleakley Platt, Mr. Rodriguez focuses his practice in the areas of litigation, intellectual property and real estate. Previously, he was the Director of Real Estate for Westchester County, where he negotiated commercial real estate transactions valued at over $100 million. Prior to his appointment as Director of Real Estate, Mr. Rodriguez defended the County of Westchester in one of the highest-profile HUD enforcement actions in United States history. He has also served as a law clerk to two federal judges and worked as an intellectual property litigator at a large law firm in New York City.
To read Mr. Rodriguez’s complete biography, click here.