A federal appeals court said it can be acceptable for a judge to conduct an Internet search to confirm an intuition about a matter of common knowledge. …
The case concerned an Internet search performed by U.S. District Judge Denny Chin, whom President Barack Obama has nominated to fill a vacant seat on the Second Circuit.
Prosecutors alleged that Anthony Bari, who served 12 years in prison for bank robbery, violated terms of his release by robbing a Ridgewood Savings Bank branch in Bronx, New York.
Chin reviewed several pieces of evidence, including a bank surveillance video showing a robber who wore a yellow rain hat. A yellow rain hat was found in the garage of Bari’s landlord.
Noting similarities between the hats, Chin at a hearing said he resorted to Google Inc’s search engine for help. “We did a Google search,” and “one can Google yellow rain hats and find lots of different yellow rain hats,” he said. …
The court said that 20 years ago. “a trial judge may have needed to travel to a local department store to survey the rain hats on offer.
“Today, however, a judge need only take a few moments to confirm his intuition by conducting a basic Internet search,” it added. “As the cost of confirming one’s intuition decreases, we would expect to see more judges doing just that.”