On December 31, 2011, the Los Angeles Times published an article on the death of Thomas T. Johnson with this headline:
Thomas T. Johnson dies at 88; judge ruled that Holocaust was a fact
The headline refers to a court case in which Judge Johnson “took judicial notice” that the Holocaust was a fact. A judge is allowed to “take judicial notice” when there is some “fact” that is “common knowledge.” The Holocaust is “common knowledge,” according to Judge Johnson’s ruling, because everyone knows that the Holocaust is a “fact.”
This quote is from the L.A. Times news article:
On Oct. 9, 1981, Johnson resolved the most controversial part of the case using the doctrine of judicial notice, which allows courts to recognize as fact matters that are common knowledge.
“The court does take judicial notice that Jews were gassed to death in Poland at Auschwitz in the summer of 1944,” when Mermelstein and his family were there, Johnson said.
Johnson made the unusual pronouncement in a case brought by Long Beach businessman Mel Mermelstein against the Institute for Historical Review, a Torrance organization that claimed that the planned extermination of Jews by the Nazis was a myth. The institute offered a $50,000 reward for proof that Jews had been gassed at Auschwitz during World War II.
In Germany, the law that is used to convict Holocaust deniers like Ernst Zündel and Germar Rudolf is based on the doctrine of Manifest Obviousness, as provided in Section 244 of the Penal Code. This is the German equivalent of a judge taking judicial notice that the Holocaust is a fact.
I first learned the term “judicial notice” when I followed the court case of William Smith who was accused of rape. Greta van Susteren was the commentator who explained the proceedings and she told the TV audience what “judicial notice” was all about. As nearly as I recall, the judge made a ruling about the crabgrass on the lawn. Apparently everything about crabgrass is common knowledge and does not have to be proved.
Is the subject of crabgrass really “common knowledge?” I don’t think so. I know everything there is to know about crabgrass, but does everyone in the world know everything about crabgrass? No! The lawyers should have been required to prove what they said about crabgrass!
Does everyone in the world know that Jews were gassed to death in Poland? I don’t think so. There are around a billion Muslims that don’t know about the Holocaust. I once met Bradley Smith and in a conversation with him, I learned that he has never been to Poland and has never seen Auschwitz. If even Bradley Smith, a famous Holocaust expert, doesn’t know everything about the gassing of the Jews at Auschwitz, how can a judge rule that this is “common knowledge?” The judge was, in effect, ruling that the Holocaust does not require proof.
In spite of this, people like Bradley Smith are demanding proof. You can read Smith’s blog here. I’m a big fan — because his writing is excellent. You can read and enjoy his articles even if you don’t care, one way or the other, about the Holocaust.