RULE 201. JUDICIAL NOTICE OF ADJUDICATIVE FACTS
Scope of rule. This rule governs only judicial notice of adjudicative facts.
(a) Scope. This rule governs judicial notice of an adjudicative fact only, not a legislative fact.
(b) Kinds of facts. A judicially noticed fact must be one not subject to reasonable
in that it is either (1) generally known within the territorial jurisdiction of the trial court or
(2) capable of accurate and ready determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot
reasonably be questioned.
(b) Kinds of Facts That May Be Judicially Noticed. The court may judicially notice a fact that is not subject to reasonable dispute because it:
(1) is generally known within the trial court's territorial jurisdiction; or
(2) can be accurately and readily determined from sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned.
(c) When discretionary. A court may take judicial notice, whether requested or
(d) When mandatory. A court shall take judicial notice if requested by a party and
with the necessary information.
(c) Taking Notice. The court:
(1) may take judicial notice on its own; or
(2) must take judicial notice if a party requests it and the court is supplied with the necessary information.
(d) Timing. The court may take judicial notice at any stage of the proceeding.
(e) Opportunity to be heard. A party is entitled upon timely request to an
opportunity to be
heard as to the propriety of taking judicial notice and the tenor of the matter noticed. In the
absence of prior notification, the request may be made after judicial notice has been
(e) Opportunity to Be Heard. On timely request, a party is entitled to be heard on the propriety of taking judicial notice and the nature of the fact to be noticed. If the court takes judicial notice before notifying a party, the party, on request, is still entitled to be heard.
(f) Time of taking notice. Judicial notice may be taken at any stage of the
(g) (f) Instructing jury. The court shall
must instruct the jury to accept as conclusive any
fact judicially noticed.
Rule 201 was amended, effective March 1, 2014.
Rule 201 is the only rule dealing with the subject of judicial notice and, by the terms of
subdivision (a) is limited in application to the judicial notice of adjudicative facts, i.e., the
facts of the particular case before the courts, facts that are normally the subject of proof by
formal introduction of evidence. Judicial notice of legislative facts, facts that aid the court
in the interpretation and application of law and policy, is not governed by this or any other
rule of evidence.
This represents a change in North Dakota law, for under N.D.C.C. ch.
31-10, both adjudicative and legislative facts were subject to the constraints of the doctrine of
judicial notice. These rules contemplate that notice of legislative facts must be freely taken,
without the requirement of first showing that the fact is one of common knowledge or
capable of easy and accurate verification. To do otherwise would stifle the growth and
development of decisional law.
Subdivision (b) provides that the kinds of adjudicative facts which may be
noticed must be either (1) generally known or (2) capable of accurate and ready
determination. The first basis for taking judicial notice, i.e., that a fact is one of common
knowledge, is perhaps more familiar, but the second is clearly recognized by practice if not
always by name. See, e.g., Boehm v. Burleigh County, 130 N.W.2d 170 (N.D. 1964). See
also McCormick on Evidence § 330. If the function of judicial notice is to remove from
the stricture of formal proof facts that are clearly beyond dispute, then either basis for the
exercise of judicial notice is valid.
Subdivisions (c) and (d) provide that a court may take judicial notice on its own
must take judicial notice of a fact when requested by a party to do so, provided, of course,
that the basic requirements for taking judicial notice are met.
It should be noted that although the taking of judicial notice, under subdivision (c),
discretionary if not requested by a party, the scope of appellate review of a trial court's
decision is not limited to determining whether the trial court's decision was "clearly
erroneous," the usual standard applied in reviewing discretionary decisions. As stated in 1
Weinstein's Evidence Para 201(04) at 201-33-34:
"The grant of discretionary authority does not mean, as it does in other situations,
trial judge's determination is virtually insulated from appellate review. An appellate court
is in as good a position as the trial court to ascertain the degree of probability of a judicially
noticeable fact. There is no need for the appellate court to defer to the trial judge's feel for
the case. Accordingly, subdivision (b) must be read in conjunction with subdivision (f)
authorizing judicial notice 'at any stage of the proceedings.' If the trial judge failed to notice
a fact which the appellate court feels was a proper subject for judicial notice, the appellate
court may notice the fact despite the grant of discretionary authority. This does not mean,
however, that 'judicial notice * * * should be used as a device to correct on appeal an almost
complete failure to present adequate evidence to the trial court.'
"Appellate courts have adequate power in the reverse situation where they disagree
the trial judge's recognition of a fact. The reviewing court may reverse if it finds that the fact
was neither 'generally known' nor 'verifiable.'"
Subdivision (e) grants to parties the basic right to be heard concerning the taking of
notice. Whenever judicial notice is to be taken pursuant to a party's request, all parties will
be notified of that fact and may exercise their right to be heard on the issue. Whenever a
judge contemplates taking judicial notice of a fact on his own motion, he should clearly
inform the parties of his intention and provide an opportunity for hearing of the issue. If the
court fails to give proper notification, it must provide an opportunity for objection after
judicial notice has been taken.
The object of this subdivision is to achieve procedural fairness. No special form of
is required nor is there a need for a formal hearing. If the parties, in fact, are given notice and
an opportunity to be heard, the requirements of this subdivision will have been satisfied.
Under subdivision (f), judicial notice may be taken at any stage of a proceeding.
This is in
accord with North Dakota law and practice under which the Supreme Court has traditionally
taken judicial notice of certain facts. See, e.g., Wyldes v. Patterson, 31 N.D. 282, 153 N.W.
It should be noted that the requirements of notice and an opportunity to be heard
in subdivision (e) apply to appellate courts contemplating taking original judicial notice. A
hearing of the issues may be afforded during oral argument or, if oral argument has been
completed, supplemental briefs may be requested.
There has been a continuing debate as to whether parties should be allowed to
a judicially noticed fact through the introduction of adverse evidence. See 1 Weinstein's
Evidence Para 201(07). The arguments advanced in favor of admitting contrary evidence are
made by those who would treat judicial notice as a method of tentatively establishing facts
that have not been challenged, but are not necessarily beyond dispute. Moreover, the
proponents of admitting contrary evidence would include within the realm of judicial notice
legislative facts, to which this rule does not apply. See, e.g., Thayer, A Preliminary Treatise
on Evidence, 308 (1898).
Under this rule, a judicially noticed fact may not be controverted and the court is to
the jury that they shall accept those facts as conclusive.
The position that judicially noticed facts may not be controverted is taken under
primarily because of the narrow scope of application of the rule. The rule applies only to
adjudicative facts that are not subject to reasonable dispute. Thus, the determination that a
fact is beyond dispute is made before the fact is judicially noticed. It would serve no useful
purpose to later admit evidence contrary to the noticed fact.
Rule 201 was amended, effective March 1, 2014, in response to the December 1, 2011, revision of the Federal Rules of Evidence. The language and organization of the rule were changed to make the rule more easily understood and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules. There is no intent to change any result in any ruling on evidence admissibility.
Sources: Joint Procedure Committee Minutes
: of January 26-27, 2012,
pages 31-32; April
8, 1976, pages 17, 18; October 1, 1975, page 3. Rule 201, Federal Rules of Evidence; Rule
201(g), Uniform Rules of Evidence (1974); Rule 201, SBAND proposal.
Superseded: N.D.C.C. §§ 31-10-01, 31-10-02.
Considered: N.D.C.C. §§ 28-29-06, 31-10-03, 31-10-04, 31-10-05, 32-25-04, 39-08-01, 40-01-03, 40-18-19.
Considered: Rule 44.1, NDRCivP; Rule 26.1, NDRCrimP.
Cross Reference: N.D.R.Civ.P. 44.1 (Determining Foreign Law); N.D.R.CrimP. 26.1 (Foreign Law Determination).