In 2016, most middle school, high school and college students have accepted that Wikipedia is the new encyclopedia. No longer is it the case that students go to the library to look up information on the Encyclopedia Britannica. In fact, the Britannica is almost fully digital these days. With so much information being accessed on Wikipedia, many question if it is a legitimate defense in a criminal defense case or with any type of litigation.
When it comes to the practice of law, it is important to remember that online resources are not to be trusted unless verified. All too often, we read articles about specific topics or issues only to find out they were embellished by the author or creator of the content. For this reason, it is important for any criminal defense lawyer to complete their due diligence before taking a piece of information into the court of law.
Starting research on Wikipedia is not frowned upon as this amazing resource is often a great place to get a baseline of information. Something any researcher or investigator will do is to go to the original source. Fortunately, Wikipedia pages have a “Reference” section in which a reader or research can continue their research at the original source. Ultimately, as a litigator, you will want to find out as much valuable information as possible.
Also keep in mind that Wikipedia pages are edited by the public. While most Wikipedia moderators are very aware of updates there are some pages that have been updated with inaccurate information. The majority of legal pages are accurate but using LexisNexis or printed legal dictionaries and encyclopedias is never going to prove to be a waste of time.
Most law firms have a number of legal professionals on staff. Paralegals, private investigators, former police officers and accident reconstructionists prove to be extremely important in all criminal defense or personal injury cases. If each of these members of a legal staff are willing to do extensive research on a topic, it will likely be the case that a consensus is reached on a specific topic area.
If you have further questions about researching a criminal defense case with Wikipedia or other types of encyclopedias, do not hesitate to give us a call at any time. We will be more than happy to discuss ways in which your law firm can find reliable information both on the Internet and in print at a local or legal library in your city.