A federal court of appeals has ruled that a court may take judicial notice of a Google map image.
In United States v. Perea-Rey, No. 10-50632 (9th Cir. May 31, 2012), the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that
We take judicial notice of a Google map and satellite image as a “source[ ] whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned,” at least for the purpose of determining the general location of the [defendant’s] home. Fed.R.Evid. 201(b)." See also Citizens for Peace in Space v. City of Colorado Springs, 477 F.3d 1212, 1219 n.2 (10th Cir. 2007) (taking judicial notice of online distance calculations); cf. Boyce Motor Lines v. United States, 342 U.S. 337, 344 (1952) (“We may, of course, take judicial notice of geography.”) (Jackson, J., dissenting).
This ruling has obvious implications for personal injury lawyers. Not infrequently Google Maps has images that will help jurors become oriented to accident scenes and surrounding neighborhoods. This decision can be used as persuasive authority that the trial judge should admit the Google image into evidence.
Thanks to the blog of the Federal Evidence Review for alerting me to this decision.