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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 113744 Find in a Library
Title: Judicial Notice of 'Facts' About Child Development (From Reforming the Law: Impact of Child Development Research, P 232-249, 1987, Gary B Melton, ed. -- See NCJ-113735)
Author(s): G B Melton
Date Published: 1987
Page Count: 18
Sponsoring Agency: Guilford Publications, Inc.
New York, NY 10012
Sale Source: Guilford Publications, Inc.
Marketing Manager
72 Spring Street
New York, NY 10012
United States of America
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Judicial notice is perhaps the most common means of introducing knowledge of child development into the judicial process.
Abstract: Because notice permits judges to take cognizance of information not formally introduced into evidence, it provides a means for educating them on aspects of child or family behavior. The scope of information admissible through judicial notice is broad: indisputable truth, common knowledge, readily verifiable facts, social science authority, and social fact assumptions. Mechanisms for introducing information may include brief of counsel, independent judicial research, judicial experience, or judicial imagination. Under the doctrine, there are no evidentiary limitations on the notice of 'legislative' (i.e., social) facts. This wide-open approach to notice of social facts follows from the recognition that judges do make policy, and that it is desirable to incorporate social reality into the law. Nonetheless, broad reliance on extralegal authorities and observations entails several problems. The validity of judicial notice of social facts is largely dependent on the quantity and quality of judges' own knowledge and research. It permits judges to pronounce their prejudices and permits judicial intrusions into the adversary process. These problems acquire special significance when applied to 'social facts' in children's cases: mistaken conclusions may be believed to be correct; statements may be more normative than descriptive, and judges may not analyze the validity of social science findings. Testimony, inhouse experts, and judicial education can provide mechanisms for increasing judicial notice of social science research and ensuring that such information is used appropriately. 54 references.
Main Term(s): Judicial system development
Index Term(s): Information dissemination; Research uses in policymaking
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