CNET: Search engines take the stand
CNET documented several cases where judges used Google searches as support for decisions. Judges often must rule on topics about which they know nothing, and it seems that they are admitting to turning to web search engines to brush up on basic facts. Policies vary by state, but traditionally, judges have wide discretion in conducting their own research.
Judges have long used the Lexis service for similar information finding. The service was originally billed as a research tool for looking up legal decisions, but quickly grew as a historical resource, collecting stories from many newspapers and making single-query searches possible. The use of Lexis formed a search habit in the judiciary, which is much more easily sated with a quick Google search.