Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



The traditional Anglo-American system of proof demands rigorous guaranties of accuracy, with its requirement of witnesses having first-hand knowledge, its mistrust of hearsay, however reliable, except for narrow exceptions, and its insistence upon original documents and their authentication by witnesses. These requirements have their roots in the contentious or adversary system, where the party and not the judge is responsible for gathering and presenting facts, and in the method of jury trial. But this strict though scientific insistence upon proving everything at first hand is, like jury-trial itself, enormously costly in time, energy and money. The principal effect of the use of the doctrine of judicial notice is to excuse the party having the burden of establishing a fact from the necessity of producing formal proof of the fact by sworn witnesses and authenticated documents or objective evidence. Besides this important effect of dispensing at least provisionally with formal proof, which all courts and writers concede to be the primary effect of judicial notice, there are other possible consequences, sometimes disputed, which will be discussed later.

Included in

Evidence Commons