2018 was a banner year for CPLR amendments, with a relatively significant number of bills being signed into law. We dealt with some of the major ones in the March 2018 (CPLR 203(g) and 214-a) and the October 2018 (CPLR 2305(d), 4540-a, 5003-b, and 7515) editions of the Digest.
We now deal with the last major piece of legislation signed into law in late December, 2018.
Via a 2018 amendment (L.2018, ch. 516, eff. 12/28/2018), a new CPLR 4511(c) was added (resulting in the relettering of existing CPLR 4511(c) to 4511(d) and 4511(d) to 4511(e)). It creates a rebuttable presumption and provides that when requested by a party, the court “shall take judicial notice of an image, map, location, distance, calculation, or other information taken from a web mapping service, a global satellite imaging site, or an internet mapping tool.” The presumption can be rebutted by credible and reliable evidence that the image or information does not “fairly and accurately portray that which is being offered to prove.” The party intending to present the image or information at a trial or hearing, must give notice of intent at least 30 days before the trial or hearing, providing a copy or identifying the internet address. The adverse party receiving notice can then object no later than 10 days before the trial or hearing, stating the grounds. Absent such an objection, the trial court is to take judicial notice of the evidence. The section acknowledges that there may be instances where such evidence “could not have been discovered by the exercise of due diligence prior to the time for objection otherwise required by this subdivision.” In such a case, an objection should be made promptly at trial.
The Sponsor’s memorandum noted that
Google Maps is a tool that can be used by the courts to fairly resolve cases in a timely manner. Allowing a judge to take judicial notice of a satellite image, location, distance, or other information using Google Maps would relieve the parties from having to otherwise prove the information evidenced in the image or map. Such rebuttable presumption of judicial notice will save time in proving points of fact, while preserving the ability of an opposing party to offer credible and reliable evidence otherwise.
It also stressed that judicial notice has been taken by federal courts of “images, as well as general locations and distances, provided by Google Maps and Google Earth.”
Note that there were other more limited amendments this year (e.g., CPLR 8003(a),(b), increasing referee compensation; CPLR 1349(2)(h)(i), providing that money received through forfeiture can be used for law enforcement assisted diversion of individuals with substance abuse disorders) and those that made technical changes (CPLR 4518(c)), clarified the effective date of an earlier amendment (CPLR 3408), and extended expiration dates (e.g., CPLR 214-b, extending the revival of time barred Agent Orange claims to 6/16/20; CPLR 2111, extending provisions relating to electronic filing).