Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiff, Charles Houser, III, filed suit on behalf of 18-20 year olds against the State of Washington seeking a declaratory judgment that the 21-year old drinking age violates equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A court may take judicial notice of facts for a predicate for setting out a rule of law.
Issue. Was it proper for the trial court to take judicial notice of the studies offered by the State?
Held. Justice Utter issued the opinion for the Washington Supreme Court and held that it was proper to take judicial notice because the court was using the factual predicate to decide a question of law.
Discussion. The trial court was not taking judicial notice in order to determine the fact of the case. Rather, the court in looking to decide a question of law was using reputable scientific studies to lay the factual predicate.