Filing Pseudonymously By State

  1. Alabama

    1. Caselaw

      No cases are directly on point or address plaintiff pseudonymity. Analogies can be drawn to the facts and claims of the following cases with Doe plaintiffs; however, Alabama has codified extra confidentiality protections for juveniles and victims of sex crimes in its court system (see below), making the pseudonymity in such cases easily distinguishable from a privacy-tort plaintiff.

      • Doe v. Swift, 570 So.2d 1209 (Ala. 1990) – Doe is an involuntarily committed patient sexually assaulted by a doctor. Doe sought money damages. Court does not address pseudonymous plaintiff.

      • Alabama Coalition for Equity, Inc. v. Hunt, Not Reported in So.2d, 1993 WL 204083 (Ala. 1993) – Does are special education public school students intervening in the lawsuit. Claims for equitable and adequate public schooling. Court does not address pseudonymity of Doe school children. See also Opinion of the Justices, 624 So.2d 107 (Ala. 1993) (advisory opinion on request by Alabama Legislature regarding special education challenge; pseudonymity not addressed).

      • Doe v. Markham, 776 So. 2d 757 (Ala. 2000). Doe is a physician. Claims for libel and intentional interference with business relationship. Court does not address pseudonymity of plaintiff.

    2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

      ALA. R. CIV. P. Rule 17 (2010): Parties plaintiff and defendant; capacity.

      (a) Real party in interest:

      Every action shall be prosecuted in the name of the real party in interest. . . . No action shall be dismissed on the ground that it is not prosecuted in the name of the real party in interest until a reasonable time has been allowed after objection for ratification of commencement of the action by, or joinder or substitution of, the real party in interest; and such ratification, joinder, or substitution shall have the same effect as if the action had been commenced in the name of the real party in interest.

      Alabama offers access to its appellate and Supreme Court cases dating back to 1994 through its online service Alalinc, at a cost of $200 per year. See Frequently Asked Questions About Alalinc (last visited Apr. 19, 2010).

    3. Relevant Statutes

      • CODE OF ALA. § 26-23A-11 (2010) provides for sealing court records and proceedings and the use of pseudonyms to preserve anonymity of women who sue under the chapter and have had an abortion.

      • ALA. R. APPELLATE PRO. Rule 52: Anonymity in appellate proceedings, opinions, and case styles:

        In any case involving a juvenile who has been the subject of a proceeding in the juvenile court system, a person granted youthful offender status, a victim of child abuse, or a victim of a sex offense, the appellate court shall make reasonable efforts to preserve the anonymity of such a person. This anonymity shall be observed in the body of any opinion and in the styling of the case and upon the direction of the court shall be observed in motions and briefs. . . .

      • CODE OF ALA. § 22-11A-64 (2010): Infected Health Care Workers: Appeal of Orders

        (i) All proceedings under this section shall be confidential and anonymous. In all pleadings or court documents, the infected health care worker shall be identified only by initials or a pseudonym. The Alabama Supreme Court shall issue any additional rules it deems necessary to assure that appeals under this section are handled in a confidential and anonymous manner.

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  2. Alaska

    1. Caselaw

      One reported Alaska case brought by a Doe plaintiff involves a right to privacy, but no cases directly address plaintiff pseudonymity. Analogies can be drawn to the facts and claims of the following cases with Doe plaintiffs; however, analogy to cases involving minors is more difficult given the codification of extra privacy protection (see infra).

      • Doe v. Alaska Superior Court, Third Judicial Dist., 721 P.2d 617 (Alaska 1986) – Does sue under state public records statute and state constitutional right to privacy to prevent release of letters they wrote to Governor to protest appointment of pro-abortion doctor to government position. Court merely notes Doe is a pseudonym for one of the letter-writers. Id. at 620 n.3.

      • Doe v. Hughes, 838 P.2d 804 (Alaska 1992) – Doe plaintiffs are a married couple trying to adopt and seeking damages from attorney malpractice related to the adoption. Court acknowledges, but does not discuss, plaintiff pseudonymity in a footnote: “In the interest of privacy, fictitious names are used in this opinion.” Id. at 804 n.1.

      • Mat-Su Coalition for Choice v. Valley Hosp., Not Reported in P.2d, 1993 WL 13013293 (Alaska Super. Ct.1993) – Ten Doe plaintiffs, patients of doctors at the defendant Hospital, seek abortions. Plaintiffs challenge Hospital’s no abortion policy under the Alaska constitutional. Court does not address pseudonymous plaintiffs.

      • Sampson v. State, 31 P.3d 88 (Alaska 2001) – Plaintiff Jane Doe and others challenge Alaska’s manslaughter statute with respect to their desire for physician-assisted dying. No discussion of pseudonym beyond acknowledging it protects Doe’s privacy.

      • Doe v. State, 189 P.3d 999 (Alaska 2008) – Doe is convicted sex offender challenge state registry law. Court merely notes use of pseudonym. See also Doe v. State, Dep’t of Public Safety, 92 P.3d 398 (Alaska 2004) (challenging same law, pseudonym merely noted).

      • Catholic Bishop Of Northern Alaska v. Does 1-6, 141 P.3d 719 (Alaska 2006) – Doe plaintiffs are adults alleging sexual abuse as minors and seeking damages. Court does not address pseudonymous plaintiffs.

    2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

      ALASKA R. CIV. PRO. 10. Form of Pleadings.

      (a) Caption – Names of Parties. Every pleading shall contain a caption setting forth the title of the court, the judicial district in which the action is filed, the city in which the court is located, the title of the action (i.e., the names of the parties), the case number, and a designation as in Rule 7(a). In the complaint the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties, but in other pleadings it is sufficient to state the name of the first party on each side with appropriate indication of other parties. When identifying parties in the complaint, the plaintiff shall include as much of each party's full legal name as is known to the plaintiff.

      Some appellate opinions, including published and unpublished Alaska court of appeals decisions, are freely available on the internet at Alaska Case Law Service. Cases are searchable by keyword, date, docket number, judge, party name, citation, and decision date.

    3. Relevant Statutes

      • ALASKA R. APP. PROC. 512.5 (2009): Public Documents

        (a) Records on Appeal. -- A record on appeal is open to public inspection . . . .

        (b)(2) Counsel in appellate matters arising out of closed proceedings in the trial courts shall, wherever possible, avoid the use of full names of parties or other detailed identifying information in briefs, motions, and other papers filed with the appellate courts. Descriptive terms ("the oldest daughter," "the prospective adoptive father"), pseudonyms ("Jane Doe"), first names or initials should be used instead.

      • ALASKA STAT. § 25.20.120 (2010)

        At any stage of a proceeding involving custody of a child the court may, if it is in the best interests of the child, close the proceeding to the public or order the court records closed to the public temporarily or permanently. The court may modify or vacate an order under this section at any time. [According to the Notes to this rule, this includes anonymity of the parties.]

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  3. Arizona

    1. Caselaw

      No reported Arizona cases are directly on point or address plaintiff pseudonymity. Analogies can be drawn to the facts and claims of the following cases with Doe plaintiffs.

      Victims’ names and other personal information can be kept out of public records by filing suits under pseudonyms, such as Jane or John Doe. No reported Arizona cases are directly on point or address plaintiff pseudonymity. Analogies can be drawn to the facts and claims of the following cases with Doe plaintiffs.

      • Doe v. Arpaio, 150 P.3d 1258 (Ariz. Ct. App. 2007) – Doe is inmate in state prison and brings privacy-based U.S. constitutional challenge against prison for its refusal to allow her to leave jail to procure a first-trimester abortion. Court notes: “The trial court allowed plaintiff Jane Doe to proceed pseudonymously. We continue that usage.” Id. at 1259 n.1.

      • Doe v. Roe, 931 P.2d 1115 (Ariz. App. 1996), vacated, 955 P.2d 951 – Doe is adult child of defendants, Roes. Doe brings tort claims against parents for sexual abuse and failure to protect during Doe’s childhood, Doe recently regained memory of these suppressed events. Court acknowledges, but does not discuss, plaintiff and defendant pseudonymity: “To protect the parties, the trial court amended the caption to use fictitious names, and sealed the record.” Id. at 1117 n.1. See also Doe v. Roe, 955 P.2d 951 (Ariz. 1998) (state Supreme Court opinion, no discussion of plaintiff pseudonymity).

      • Planned Parenthood Center of Tucson, Inc. v. Marks, 497 P.2d 534 (Ariz. App. 1972) – Doe was pregnant and advised by doctor to seek abortion for health reasons; Doe goes out of state to get abortion and to avoid criminal prosecution under Arizona anti-abortion law. Doe challenges the law under Arizona’s Constitution. Court does not address plaintiff pseudonymity. See also Roe v. Arizona Bd. of Regents, 549 P.2d 150 (Ariz. 1976) (challenging University hospital refusal to offer second-term abortions).

      • 7200 Scottsdale Road Partners v. Maricopa County, 861 P.2d 699 (Ariz. Tax. 1993) – No pseudonymous plaintiffs. Tax court addresses the government’s fear about increases in pseudonymous tax plaintiffs in dicta: “The government fears that if the Partnership is allowed to amend its complaint to change the name of the plaintiff this Court will be overwhelmed with a flood of tax cases with John Doe plaintiffs, real names to be filled in later. But the Court has no such fear; there is nothing innocent or subtle about a John Doe complaint and such slyness will fool no one.” Id. at 701.

      • Carlson v. Pima Cty., 141 Ariz. 487, 490–91 (1984) (“where the competing interest [to public access of court records] is one of confidentiality or privacy, a practical alternative to the complete denial of access would be deleting specific personal identifying information, such as names”)

    2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

      ARIZ. R. CIV. PRO. 10. Form of pleading

      (a) Caption; names of parties. -- Every pleading shall contain a caption setting forth the name of the court, the title of the action, the file number, and a designation as in Rule 7(a). In the complaint the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties, but in other pleadings it is sufficient to state the name of the first party on each side with an appropriate indication of other parties.

      Arizona provides public internet access to published and unpublished opinions of the state’s Supreme Court. See Welcome to Arizona Supreme Court Opinions (last visited Apr. 19, 2010).

    3. Relevant Statutes

      • ARIZ. REV. STAT. ANN. § 8-208 (2010): Juvenile court records; public inspection; exceptions

        G. The court may order that the records be kept confidential and withheld from public inspection if the court determines that the subject matter of any record involves a clear public interest in confidentiality.

      • ARIZ. REV. STAT. ANN. § 8-525 (2010): Open court proceedings; closure; records

        D. At the beginning of a hearing [related to dependent children, permanent guardianship and termination of parental rights] that is open to the public, the court shall do the following:

        (1). Admonish all attendees that they are prohibited from disclosing any information that may identify the child and the child's siblings, parents, guardians and caregivers, and any other person whose identity will be disclosed during the proceeding.

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  4. Arkansas

    1. Caselaw

      One reported case from Arkansas treats the appeal of a trial court’s denial of plaintiff’s motion to proceed pseudonymously, Doe v. Union Pac. R.R., 914 S.W.2d 312 (Ark. 1996). Doe, an employee of defendant Railroad, seeks damages from allegation of sexual harassment. Doe had furnished true name to defendant under cover, and sought to proceed pseudonymously in the trial court, which denied the application. The Court affirms the denial to proceed pseudonymously, as the trial court’s decision was not a final one and not appealable.

      However, other cases demonstrate fact patterns for which trial courts will grant use of pseudonyms:

      • Doe v. Arkansas Dept. of Human Services, 182 S.W.3d 107 (Ark. 2004) – Doe and Roe, nurses, seek to prevent their expunged criminal records from being used by state office to deny them employment at state-run nursing care facility. The court merely mentions: “Jane Doe and Jane Roe are pseudonyms.” Id. at 108.
      • Matter of Adoption of S.J.B., 294 Ark. 598, 745 S.W.2d 606 (Ark. 1988) – Roe gives her baby, Roe, up for adoption. No discussion of pseudonyms or initials.
    2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

      ARK. R. CIV. PRO. 10 (2010)

      (a) Caption; Names of Parties Every pleading shall contain a caption setting forth the name of the court, the title of the action, the file number and a designation as in Rule 7(a). In the complaint, the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties, but in other pleadings, it is sufficient to state the name of the first party on each side with an appropriate indication of other parties.

      Arkansas court opinions are available for free on the internet at Latest Court of Appeals Decision. They are organized by year and by court and have no search function.

    3. Relevant Statutes

      • ARK. SUP. CT. & CT. OF APP 6-3 (2010): Anonymity in certain appellate proceedings, opinions and case styles

        (a) Scope. In an appeal in which counsel for either side believes that a person's identity should be protected by the Court, counsel may move the Court to do so. These cases may include, but are not limited to, adoptions and appeals in juvenile cases. [Includes use of initials].

      • AR SUP. CT. ADM. ORDER NO. 19 § 7 (2010): Court Records Excluded from Public Access.

        Arkansas also protects the identity of women suing under abortion laws: A.C.A. § 20-16-1111 (Protection of privacy in court proceedings relating to Unborn Child Pain and Awareness Act); A.C.A. § 20-16-1207 (Provision for anonymity of the female in every proceeding or action under the Partial Birth Abortion Ban); A.C.A. § 20-16-908 (2009): Providing for a woman’s anonymity in every proceeding or action brought under this the Woman’s Right to Know Act of 2001).

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  5. California

    1. Caselaw

      Caselaw in California addresses several facets of proceeding as a pseudonymous plaintiff.

      Filing Using True Names: Two cases present seemingly contradictory results. In Doe v. Brown, the California appellate court allows the trial court proceeding & appeal to proceed with the Doe caption, acknowledging in a footnote, but not discussing, the parties’ stipulation and the trial court’s approval of the anonymity of the plaintiff and even the removal of Doe’s true name from all “publicly accessible court records.” By contrast, in Taus v. Loftus, the plaintiff was not allowed to proceed using initials by the California Supreme Court, in part because she revealed her true name in her initial filing.

      • Doe v. Brown, 99 Cal. Rptr. 3d 209 (Cal. Ct. App. 2009) – Doe is a sex offender who, having completed probation, seeks not to have her personal information placed on the California sex offender registry which is available on the internet (Megan’s Law). Doe filed the proceeding under her true name; nevertheless, the court opines:

        "Although Doe initiated this proceeding using her legal name, the parties entered into a stipulation, approved by the trial court, to substitute the pseudonym Jane Doe for Doe's legal name in the case title, and to permit her to proceed on appeal under that pseudonym. Pursuant to the parties' stipulation, the trial court entered an order removing Doe's legal name from all publicly accessible court records pertaining to this proceeding."1

        See also Doe v. California Dept. of Justice, 93 Cal. Rptr. 3d 736 (Cal. Ct. App. 2009) (bringing a similar challenge to Megan’s Law).

      • Taus v. Loftus, 151 P.3d 1185 (Cal. 2007) – Plaintiff was the anonymous subject of a study and was included in a subsequent publication on adults’ memories of sexual abuse from childhood. Plaintiff sues for damages, alleging defamation and negligent infliction of emotional distress stemming from the revelation of her identity in later scholarly publications. In examining the Plaintiff’s request for pseudonymity in the proceeding, the Court noted that while Defendant did improperly disclose Plaintiff’s initials in a deposition relating to the proceeding, Plaintiff herself had previously filed under her true name, identifying herself as the Jane Doe.

      Interestingly, one recent court of appeals opinion mentions the increase across jurisdictions of plaintiff pseudonyms used to protect privacy interests:

      • Starbucks Corp. v. Superior Court, 86 Cal. Rptr. 3d 482 (Cal. Ct. App. 2008) – The court notes in dicta that “[t]he judicial use of ‘Doe plaintiffs”’ to protect legitimate privacy rights has gained wide currency, particularly given the rapidity and ubiquity of disclosures over the World Wide Web.”

      Initials are also used by some plaintiffs in California courts.

      • M.P. v. City of Sacramento, 98 Cal.Rptr.3d 812 (Cal. Ct. App. 2009) – Plaintiff M.P. brought an action against the city’s fire department under a theory of vicarious liability for her alleged sexual assault by several firefighters. Court does not discuss use of initials.

      • John B. v. Superior Court, 137 P.3d 153 (Cal. 2006) – Two of opposing parties are husband and wife, whose last initial is used in place of their full name in the record. Wife sues husband for allegedly transmitting the HIV virus to her due to his infidelity with other men. Court does not address use of last initial.

      Acknowledgement is made by some courts, without a discussion of the pseudonymous use.

      • J. D. v. Lackner, 145 Cal. Rptr. 570 (Cal. Ct. App. 1978) – Plaintiff Jane Doe (identified in caption by the initials for the pseudonym) sues seeking Medi-Cal benefits for her sex reassignment surgery. The appellate court noted, without further discussion, that appellant “has been and shall be allowed to proceed herein under the fictitious name ‘Jane Doe’ . . . .” Id. at 92.

      • Doe v. Roe, 267 Cal. Rptr. 564 (Cal. Ct. App. 1990) – Doe and Roe were a couple; Doe sues for the negligent transmission of herpes. The court notes: “By stipulation of the parties and order of this court the parties have been designated by fictitious names to protect their privacy.” Id. at 564 n.1.

      • Doe v. Capital Cities, 58 Cal. Rptr. 2d 122 (Cal. Ct. App. 1996) – Doe is actor who, while seeking employment by Defendant, was drugged and gang raped by the defendant’s hiring agent and others. Doe sues for negligent hiring practices and sexual harassment. The court acknowledged the use of the pseudonym: “Given the nature of these events, plaintiff has elected to sue as ‘John Doe.’” Id. at 1042 n.1.

      Other California decisions make no mention of the pseudonymity of the plaintiff. These cases are useful insofar as they provide breadth to the examples that one could analogize to.

      • Socialist Workers Committee v. Brown, 125 Cal. Rptr. 915 (Cal. Ct. App. 1975) – Two Doe plaintiffs in this consolidation of cases seek to maintain pseudonymity in their donation to the Socialist Party, for fear of retribution and harassment if they disclose their donations under campaign finance law. The court does not discuss Plaintiffs’ pseudonymity in the record.

      • Doe v. Bakersfield City School Dist., 39 Cal. Rptr. 3d 79 (Cal. Ct. App. 2006) – Does were sexually abused by junior high school counselor, and seek leave to file late tort claims on childhood sexual abuse. No discussion of pseudonymity.

      • Doe v. Saenz, 45 Cal. Rptr. 3d 126 (Cal. App. 2006) – Doe plaintiffs have criminal histories that bar them from child care employment under state law. Does challenge state agency interpretation of the applicable statute. Court does not discuss pseudonymity.

      • Doe v. Roman Catholic Bishop of San Diego, 101 Cal. Rptr. 3d 398 (Cal. Ct. App. 2009) – Does allege sexual abuse at hands of clergy. Issue in case is the statute of limitations for bringing claims for childhood sexual abuse and negligent hiring. No discussion of pseudonymity.

      • Doe v. Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cashel & Emly, 99 Cal. Rptr. 3d 158 (Cal. Ct. App. 2009) – Does claim sexual abuse by priest, and appeal the finding of no jurisdiction by the trial court over the Irish seminary where the abusive priest was trained. No discussion of pseudonymity.

    2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

      CAL. CODE CIV. PRO. § 367: “Every action must be prosecuted in the name of the real party in interest, except as otherwise provided by statute.”

      Appellate records are available for free on the internet through California Courts: Opinions of the Supreme Court and Courts of Appeals, available here. They are searchable by citation or by a natural language search.

    3. Relevant Statutes

      • CAL. RULES OF COURT, Rule 8.401 (2010): Juvenile Appeals and Writs: Confidentiality [not effective until July 1, 2010: see CAL RULES OF COURT, RULE 8.400 (2010)]

        (a) Access to filed documents: (1) Except as provided in (3), the record on appeal and documents filed by the parties in proceedings under this chapter may be inspected only by the reviewing court and appellate project personnel, the parties or their attorneys, and other persons the court may designate. (2) To protect anonymity, a party must be referred to by first name and last initial in all filed documents and court orders and opinions; but if the first name is unusual or other circumstances would defeat the objective of anonymity, the party's initials may be used.

      • CAL. RULES OF COURT, RULE 2.550 (2010): Sealed Records

        [Provides procedure for balancing interests when court considers sealing, including express factual findings. Also notes a presumption of open access to court records.]

      • CAL. CIV. CODE § 3427.3 (2009): Protection of individual privacy and prevention of harassment

        The court having jurisdiction over a civil proceeding under this title shall take all steps reasonably necessary to safeguard the individual privacy and prevent harassment of a health care patient, licensed health practitioner, or employee, client, or customer of a health care facility who is a party or witness in the proceeding, including granting protective orders. Health care patients, licensed health practitioners, and employees, clients, and customers of the health care facility may use pseudonyms to protect their privacy.

      • CAL. HEALTH & SAF. CODE § 120291 (2009): Felony for specific intent to infect [with HIV]

        (c) (1) [Provides for use of pseudonym for victims when criminal proceedings are initiated.]

      • CAL. CIV. CODE § 1708.85

        1. Introduction

          California statutory law specifically allows a party to bring a private cause of action using a pseudonym against any person who, without consent, intentionally distributes intimate or sexual imagery of a person where there was a reasonable expectation that the material would remain private and there is some harm (including, for example, loss of reputation, shame, hurt feelings and damage to profession or occupation).

        2. Text of Statute(s)

          (f)(1) A plaintiff in a civil proceeding pursuant to subdivision (a), may proceed using a pseudonym, either John Doe, Jane Doe, or Doe, for the true name of the plaintiff and may exclude or redact from all pleadings and documents filed in the action other identifying characteristics of the plaintiff. A plaintiff who proceeds using a pseudonym and excluding or redacting identifying characteristics as provided in this section shall file with the court and serve upon the defendant a confidential information form for this purpose that includes the plaintiff's name and other identifying characteristics excluded or redacted. The court shall keep the plaintiff's name and excluded or redacted characteristics confidential.

          (2) All court decisions, orders, petitions, and other documents, including motions and papers filed by the parties, shall be worded so as to protect the name or other identifying characteristics of the plaintiff from public revelation.

          (3) As used in this subdivision, “identifying characteristics” includes, but is not limited to, name or any part thereof, address or any part thereof, city or unincorporated area of residence, age, marital status, relationship to defendant, and race or ethnic background.

          (4) The responsibility for excluding or redacting the name or identifying characteristics of the plaintiff from all documents filed with the court rests solely with the parties and their attorneys. Nothing in this section requires the court to review pleadings or other papers for compliance with this provision.

        3. Cases

          As of October 2015, our search of California cases did not reveal any cases citing this statute.

    4. Civil Proceedings

      California courts have allowed plaintiffs to proceed with a pseudonym in a variety of cases. California statutory law specifically allows a party to bring a lawsuit using a pseudonym in cases involving juveniles,2 health care patients and staff,3 and victims who were deliberately infected with HIV.4 Additionally, plaintiffs often proceed pseudonymously on common law claims, but this is an area where the existing case law is underdeveloped.5 Existing case law, however, does not address in detail the proper use of pseudonyms in cases not covered by the statutes that provide for pseudonymity, nor does it set out an explicit balancing test for determining whether a party may proceed pseudonymously.

      The use of “Doe plaintiffs” to protect legitimate privacy rights has been recognized as an appropriate practice in circumstances when a plaintiff would be further stigmatized by disclosing his or her name in court documents.6 The “Doe plaintiff” practice may be particularly appropriate where the facts of the case are of a sexual nature,7 or where the injured party complaints of cyber-harassment and invasions of privacy.8 When applying law to facts, it may be helpful to keep the federal multi-factor test in mind to help generate useful arguments for good cause.

      Courts have found that the California Code of Civil Procedure does not prohibit pseudonymous litigation. Section 367 of the California Code of Civil Procedure states that “[e]very action must be prosecuted in the name of the real party in interest, except as otherwise provided by statute.”9 However, California courts have interpreted Section 367 to mean that a lawsuit must be brought on behalf of a person having legal standing to commence the action, and not to control whether or not a pseudonym is appropriate in a given case.10

    5. Criminal Proceedings

      Generally, victims of crime in California are entitled to the rights set forth in Article 1, Section 28, Subsection b of the California Constitution, known as the “Victim’s Bill of Rights.” The first of these rights is “[t]o be treated with fairness and respect for his or her privacy and dignity, and to be free from intimidation, harassment, and abuse throughout the criminal or juvenile justice process.”11 Each county in California establishes a procedure to protect the confidentiality of witness or victim information contained in police, arrest, or investigative reports, if those reports are submitted to the court by a prosecutor or law enforcement officer.12 “‘Confidential personal information’ includes, but is not limited to an address, telephone number, driver’s license or California Identification Card number, social security number, date of birth, place of employment, employee identification number, mother’s maiden name, demand deposit account number, savings or checking account number, or credit card number.”13

      More specifically, victims of sexual offenses have the option of keeping their names out of the public record and assuming the pseudonym of Jane or John Doe in all records and court proceedings.14 However, the victim must assert this right, and affirmatively make the request that her name be withheld from the public record.15 Also, the defendant still maintains the right to a full discovery, and the prosecution must disclose the name and address of witnesses to the defense absent a showing of good cause concerning why the disclosure should be denied.16

      The option of using a pseudonym and withholding the victim’s name from the public record is only available to victims of the thirty-two crimes listed below:

      • Cal. Penal Code § 261 - Rape
      • Cal. Penal Code § 261.5 - Unlawful Sexual Intercourse with Person Under 18
      • Cal. Penal Code § 262 - Rape of Spouse
      • Cal. Penal Code § 264 - Rape, Punishment
      • Cal. Penal Code § 264.1 - Rape or Penetration of Genital or Anal Openings by Foreign Object; Acting in Concert by Force or Violence
      • Cal. Penal Code § 265 - Abduction for Marriage or Defilement
      • Cal. Penal Code § 266 - Inveiglement or Enticement of Unmarried Female under 18 for Purposes of Prostitution; Procuring Female for Illicit Intercourse by False Pretenses
      • Cal. Penal Code § 266a - Abduction or Procurement by Fraudulent Inducement for Prostitution
      • Cal. Penal Code § 266b - Abduction to Live in Illicit Relation
      • Cal. Penal Code § 266c - Unlawful Sexual Intercourse; Sexual Penetration; Oral Copulation; or Sodomy; Consent Procured by False of Fraudulent Representation with Intent to Create Fear
      • Cal. Penal Code § 266e - Purchasing Person for Purposes of Prostitution or Placing Person for Immoral Purposes
      • Cal. Penal Code § 266f - Sale of Person for Immoral Purposes
      • Cal. Penal Code § 266j - Procurement of Child Under Age 16 for Lewd or Lascivious Acts
      • Cal. Penal Code § 267 - Abduction; Person Under 18 for Purpose of Prostitution
      • Cal. Penal Code § 269 - Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child
      • Cal. Penal Code § 273a - Willful Harm or Injury to Child; Endangering Person or Health
      • Cal. Penal Code § 273d - Corporal Punishment or Injury of Child
      • Cal. Penal Code § 273.5 - Willful Infliction of Corporal Injury
      • Cal. Penal Code § 285 - Incest
      • Cal. Penal Code § 286 - Sodomy
      • Cal. Penal Code § 288 - Lewd or Lascivious Acts
      • Cal. Penal Code § 288a - Oral Copulation
      • Cal. Penal Code § 288.2 - Harmful Matter sent with Intent of Seduction of Minor
      • Cal. Penal Code § 288.3 - Contact of Minor with Intent to Commit Sexual Offense
      • Cal. Penal Code § 288.5 - Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child
      • Cal. Penal Code § 288.7 - Sexual Intercourse or Sodomy with Child 10 years of age or Younger; Oral Copulation or Sexual Penetration of Child 10 Years of age or Younger
      • Cal. Penal Code § 289 - Forcible acts of Sexual Penetration
      • Cal. Penal Code § 422.6 - Hate Crime—Interference with exercise of civil rights because of actual or perceived characteristics of victim; damaging property; speech [characteristics underlying “hate crime” include gender and sexual orientation—see § 422.55]
      • Cal. Penal Code § 422.7 - Aggravating Factors for Hate Crime Punishment
      • Cal. Penal Code § 422.75 - Enhanced Penalties for Hate Crimes
      • Cal. Penal Code § 646.9 - Stalking
      • Cal. Penal Code § 647.6 - Annoying or Molesting a Child Under 18

      The law enforcement employee who receives a report from a person alleging that the person is a victim of one of the above-listed crimes, must inform the victim that her or his name will become part of the public record unless she or he requests otherwise.17 The law enforcement employee must then record that the victim has been so informed and record the victim’s response.18 The law enforcement agency must not disclose the name or address of the victim to any person except as required or authorized by law.19 Authorized disclosures include those to the prosecutor, parole officers, parole hearing officers, and probation officers.20

      At the victim’s request, the court may order the victim’s identity to be recorded under a pseudonym (Jane or John Doe) in all records and proceedings “if the court finds that such an order is reasonably necessary to protect the privacy of the person and will not unduly prejudice the prosecution or the defense.”21 If a pseudonym is used pursuant to section 293.5(a), then the jury is instructed at the beginning and end of the trial that the pseudonym is being used only to protect the privacy of the victim.22 The instruction reads as follows: “In this case, a person is called (Jane/John Doe). This name is used only to protect (his/her) privacy as required by law.”23 At the request of the defense attorney, the court may also add these sentences to the instruction: “The fact that the person is identified in this way is not evidence. Do not consider this fact for any purpose.”24

      Cal. Penal Code sections 293 and 293.5, which provide privacy assurances to victims of sexual offenses, have been upheld despite constitutional challenges. In People v. Ramirez, the defendant presented several arguments against the statutes.25 First, the defendant argued that allowing the victim to be known as Jane Doe violated his right to a fair and impartial jury because, although the victim testified in person and all jurors saw the victim, there may have been jurors who knew the victim by name only.26 The Court of Appeal rejected this argument stating “In nonlegal jargon, we think this is a stretch.”27

      Second, the defendant argued that the victim’s testimony as “Jane Doe” violated his right to confront and cross-examine her because the victim might “expand or embellish her testimony” if allowed to testify with a pseudonym.28 The court rejected this argument, noting that the defendant was provided with complete discovery and knew the victim’s true name and address.29 The court also relied on a Ninth Circuit opinion that stated “[t]here is no absolute right of an accused to have a jury hear a witness’s true name.”30 And, the court found that the balancing test provided in section 293, requiring the victim’s privacy interest to be weighed against the possibility that a pseudonym would prejudice the prosecution or defense, is constitutionally valid.31

      Third, the defendant argued that the jury instruction mandated by section 293.5 creates an inference that the court believes that the alleged victim is an actual victim, and thus unduly influenced the jury.32 The court also rejected this argument noting that (1) the defense did not request any additional clarifying language at the trial court level; and (2) that taken in context with all of the other instructions that the trial judge gave, no improper inference could have been drawn by the jury from the instruction about the witness’s use of a pseudonym.33

      Under the Penal Code sections governing discovery, the prosecution must disclose to the defense the names and addresses of the prosecution’s witnesses.34 There is, however, an exception in section 1054.7: “The disclosures required under this chapter shall be made at least 30 days prior to the trial, unless good cause is shown why a disclosure should be denied, restricted, or deferred. . . ‘Good cause’ is limited to threats or possible danger to the safety of a victim or witness, possible loss or destruction of evidence, or possible compromise of other investigations by law enforcement.” Protecting witnesses from embarrassment does not constitute “good cause.”35 Similarly, a feeling of fear, without evidence of threats, danger, inappropriate attempts to contact the victim, harassment, or the involvement of gang members, does not constitute good cause.36

    1. Id. at 413 n.3. 

    2. Cal. Rules of Court, Rule 8.401 (2011). 

    3. Cal. Civ. Code § 3427.3 (West 2011). 

    4. Cal. Health & Saf. Code § 120291 (West 2011). 

    5. See generally, Doe v. Saenz, 45 Cal. Rptr. 3d 126 (Cal. Ct. App. 2006), (three convicted felons were allowed to proceed pseudonymously to challenge State Department of Social Services’ decision seeking to preclude them from working at licensed community care facilities), Hooper v. Deukmejian (176 Cal. Rptr. 569 (Cal. Ct. App. 1981) (an individual convicted of maintaining a place for selling or using a narcotic was permitted to sue pseudonymously to determine whether he and others similarly situated were entitled to the benefits and protections of marijuana reform legislation), and Jane Doe 8015 v. Superior Court, 55 Cal. Rptr. 3d 708 (Cal. Ct. App. 2007) (a patient was allowed to bring an action against a laboratory using a  pseudonym after it was determined that one of the laboratory’s phlebotomists had reused needles, resulting in the plaintiff’s contraction of HIV). 

    6. See Starbucks Corp. v. Superior Court, 86 Cal. Rprtr. 3d 482, 495 n.7 (Cal. Ct. App. 2008) (noting that this practice “has gained wide currency, particularly given the rapidity and ubiquity of disclosures over the [internet.]”). 

    7. See, e.g., Doe v. City of Los Angeles, 67 Cal. Rptr. 3d 330 (2007) (former Boy Scouts sued under pseudonym based on allegations that city police officer sexually assaulted them while they were teenagers). 

    8. See, e.g., M.G. v. R.D., No. B159974,  2003 WL 21129878, at *3 (Cal. Ct. App. May 16, 2003) (Plaintiff was the victim of Defendant’s internet campaign to ruin Plaintiff’s reputation by disseminating private “sex tapes” and sending malicious emails about Plaintiff to Plaintiff’s friends, family, and co-workers). 

    9. Cal. Civ. Code, § 367 (West 2011). 

    10. Doe v. Lincoln Unified Sch. Dist., No. C062554, 2010 Cal. App. LEXIS 1505, at *8-9 (Cal. Ct. App. Aug. 30, 2010). 

    11. Cal. Const. art. 1, § 28(b)(1) (West 2011).  

    12. Cal. Penal Code § 964(a) (West 2011). 

    13. Cal. Penal Code § 964(b) (West 2011). 

    14. See Cal. Penal Code §§ 293, 293.5 (West 2011). 

    15. See Cal. Penal Code § 293(a) (West 2011). 

    16. See Cal. Penal Code §§ 1054.1, 1054.7. Social norms providing victims with anonymity have developed outside of the statutory requirements. For example, newspapers generally do not print the names of sexual assault victims, and similarly, some judges do not include the names of sexual assault victims in their opinions. 

    17. See Cal. Penal Code § 293(a). 

    18. See Cal. Penal Code § 293(b). 

    19. Cal. Penal Code § 293(c)-(d). 

    20. Id. 

    21. Cal. Penal Code § 293.5(a). 

    22. Cal. Penal Code § 293.5(b). 

    23. Cal. Jury Instructions., Crim., 7th Ed. § 1.12. 

    24. Id. 

    25. People v. Ramirez, 64 Cal. Rptr. 2d 9 (Cal Ct. App. 1997). 

    26. Id. at 54. 

    27. Id. 

    28. Id. at 56-57. 

    29. Id. at 56. 

    30. Id. citing Clark v. Ricketts, 958 F.2d 851, 855 (9th Cir. 1991). 

    31. Id. at 57. 

    32. Id. 57-58. 

    33. Id. at 58. (The trial judge instructed the jury that the court did not intend to show belief or disbelief concerning any witness and if the jury thought the court did, then the jury should disregard that indication). 

    34. Cal. Penal Code § 1054.1. 

    35. See Reid v. Super. Ct., 64 Cal. Rptr. 2d 714, 720 (Cal. Ct. App. 1997). 

    36. See Id. 

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  6. Colorado

    1. Caselaw

      Colorado appellate courts have considered the use of pseudonyms in one prominent case, adopting the federal Stegall balancing test.

      • Doe v. Heitler, 26 P.3d 539 (Colorado Ct. App. 2001) – Plaintiff Doe is patient of Defendant, a psychiatrist, and a cocaine user. Plaintiff sues for breach of doctor-patient confidentiality when Defendant discloses Plaintiff’s cocaine use in a referral to another doctor. The court considered (a) the merits of the plaintiff’s argument to proceed anonymously and (b) whether the lower court erred in dismissing the complaint without giving the plaintiff leave to amend the complaint with his true name. Id. The court held that Plaintiff failed to show sufficient interest in proceeding anonymously under the Stegall test, yet Plaintiff was free to amend his complaint under Colorado procedural rules to state his true name and proceed with the suit.

      Colorado courts have also stated that the public’s interest in open court records, per the Open Records Act, also meant that the Stegall test applies whenever parties seek to seal court records pursuant to a settlement.

      • Anderson v. Home Insurance Co., 924 P.2d 1123 (Colo. Ct. App. 1996) – Martinez, in a similar situation to Anderson vis-à-vis Home Insurance Co., sought to unseal records of settlement. The appellate court held that the appropriate test for sealing records was the Stegall balancing test, and that the lower court improperly sealed records as it did not apply the correct test. Remanded to lower court to determine if any particular records were in special need of sealing.

      Also of note is one case in which a plaintiff bringing privacy torts successfully sued as Doe, suggesting that Colorado’s application of Stegall is not bounded by the facts of Anderson or Heitler.

      • Doe v. High-Tech Institute, Inc., 972 P.2d 1060 (Colo. Ct. App. 1998) – Plaintiff Doe is a medical student who authorized rubella, not HIV, tests. Subsequent HIV testing by defendant leads to plaintiff’s claims for disclosure of private facts and intrusion upon seclusion. Plaintiff lost at trial court. Appellate court does not mention pseudonymity.
    2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

      COL. R. CIV. PRO. 10 (2010): Form and Quality of Pleadings, Motions and Other Documents: Annotation II.The public has an interest in disclosure of who the parties to an action are. A party may use a pseudonym for the name of a party upon a motion to the court. The court in determining whether use of a pseudonym for a party is appropriate shall evaluate: Whether the justification asserted by the requesting party is merely to avoid the annoyance and criticism that may attend any litigation or is to preserve privacy in a matter of a sensitive and highly personal nature; whether identification poses a risk of retaliatory physical or mental harm to the requesting party or to innocent non-parties; whether the action is against a governmental or a private party; whether the plaintiff would be compelled to admit his or her intention to engage in illegal conduct, thereby risking criminal prosecution; and the risk of unfairness to the opposing party from allowing an action against it to proceed anonymously. A pseudonym may not be used merely to avoid embarrassment, humiliation, or economic loss. Doe v. Heitler, 26 P.3d 539 (Colo. App. 2001).

      The Colorado State Judicial Branch’s website does not provide online access to trial court documents. It directs a reader to third-party sites that charge for access to cases. See Public Acces: Court Records Search (last visited Apr. 20, 2010). Colorado's State Court websites provide access to some recent appellate opinions, and Supreme Court opinions from the past twelve months. See also Colorado Bar Association website for an easier format.

    3. Relevant Statutes

      COL. R. CIV. PRO. 121 (2010): Local Rules—Statewide Practice Standards: District Court Practice Standards: Section 1-5: Limitation of Access to Court Files

      1. Nature of Order.

        Upon motion by any party named in any civil action, the court may limit access to court files. The order of limitation shall specify the nature of limitation, the duration of the limitation, and the reason for limitation.

      2. When Order Granted.

        An order limiting access shall not be granted except upon a finding that the harm to the privacy of a person in interest out weighs the public interest.

      3. Application for Order.

        A motion for limitation of access may be granted, ex parte, upon motion filed with the complaint, accompanied by supporting affidavit or at a hearing concerning the motion.

      4. Review by Order.

        Upon notice to all parties of record, and after hearing, an order limiting access may be reviewed by the court at any time on its own motion or upon the motion of any person.

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  7. Connecticut

    1. Caselaw

      Connecticut has determined a correct procedure for filing pseudonymously in CONN. PRACTICE BOOK § 11-20A (2010) (see below). Several cases examine the procedural requirements and substantive privacy risks faced by plaintiffs requesting to proceed pseudonymously.

      • Jacobs (as PPA for John Doe) v. NAFI, Connecticut, Inc., No. CV075012305S, 2007 WL 4571159 (Conn.Super. Ct. 2007) – In examining the procedural requirements, the Connecticut Superior Court found that failure to follow the procedure outlined in the Practice Book was not an error leading to dismissal with prejudice. Jacobs, suing on behalf of the mentally disabled adult John Doe who alleged sexual assault by caretakers at his residential treatment facility, improperly filed the complaint using the pseudonym without receiving the proper prior judicial approval. Id. at 1. The court, sua sponte, raised the issue of subject matter jurisdiction regarding the failure to state the names of real parties in interest in the original complaint. Id. at 2. In its analysis, the court found that this error did not deprive the court of subject matter jurisdiction, as the contemporaneous filing of an affidavit with John Doe’s true name sufficiently informed both the court and the defendant of the true parties in action. The court also considered the merits of Doe’s request, and repeating a balancing test formulated by the Connecticut Supreme Court in Doe v. Diocese Corp., 647 A.2d 1067, 1070 (Conn. Supp. Ct. 1994): the privilege of using fictitious names in actions should be granted only in rare cases where the nature of issue litigated and the interest of the parties demand it and no harm can be done to the public interest. Id. at *4. The court held that because of the allegations of sexual abuse and the mental incompetency of the plaintiff, a pseudonym was warranted.

      • Doe v. Candido, No. CV095032785, 2010 WL 937260 (Conn. Super. Ct. 2010) – Doe was raped. In granting Plaintiff’s motion for use of the pseudonym according to the Practice Book, the court found that the pseudonym was in part warranted by “the publicity of the criminal aspect of this case [which] has garnered much media attention.” Id. at *1.

      Other cases give examples of factual patterns for which Connecticut court allow pseudonyms under the Practice Book:

      • Doe v. Firn, No. CV065001087S, 2006 WL 2847885 (Conn. Super. Ct. 2006) – Doe was sexually abused by high school coach over two years; a criminal charge is pending. Defendant objects to pseudonym, arguing Doe publicized her image, name, and the case on the internet, in addition to the widespread media attention to the case. The court rejected the defendant’s argument because Doe’s MySpace page did not specifically identify her as the plaintiff, or refer to allegations int eh complaint, and the fact that there was a strong interest in preventing disclosure of minor victims of sexual abuse.

      • Doe v. Curtis, No. CV095028697, 2010 WL 936781 (Conn. Super. Ct. 2010) – Doe is a minor who alleges his father sexually abused him for years. The court finds that Plaintiff met his burden under the Practice Book as the “details of the sexual assaults and the subsequent damages are highly sensitive and would likely lead to further injury and social stigmatization if the minor plaintiff's name was to be disclosed and if the name of the minor plaintiff's mother was to be disclosed.” Id. at 3. See also Doe v. Brown*, No. FBTCV095024074S, 2009 WL 5322462 (Conn. Super. Ct. 2009) (allowing pseudonym for minor sexually abused by step-father, and for her mother under similar reasoning).

      Not all applications for pseudonyms in causes of action alleging sexual abuse warrant them in the Connecticut courts, however:

      • Doe v. St. John, No. CV055000443S, 2006 WL 1149224 (Conn. Super. Ct. 2006) – John Doe and John Roe, alleging sexual abuse as 19 year olds by a junior firefighters leader, were unsuccessful in their appeal of the trial court’s denial of their motion to proceed as “Does.” Does correctly followed the procedure from the Practice Book, but failed to point to more severe harm to them than mere embarrassment and potential economic harm. Id. at *4.

      Many cases have minors sue pseudonymously for claims arising from sexual abuses; however, Connecticut has codified protections, including privacy, for victims of sexual abuse, which weigh in favor of a court’s decision to grant pseudonymity. See, e.g., Doe v. Hartford Roman Catholic Diocesan Corp., 900 A.2d 572 (Conn. Ct. App., 2006) (Does are adults but claims stem from sexual abuse by priests when they were minors; court notes it protects sexual abuse victims’ privacy with Doe pseudonyms pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. § 54-86(e)).

      Pseudonymous plaintiffs also litigated HIV-related claims (see, e.g., Doe v. Yale University, 791 A.2d 727 (Conn. Super. Ct. 2000), rev’d by 748 A.2d 834 (Conn. 2000) (acknowledging pseudonym in footnote); Doe v. Bridgeport Hosp., 671 A.2d 405 (Conn. Ct. App. 1996) (damages arising from misdiagnosis as HIV positive)). Other cases with Doe plaintiffs involve medical information or conditions (see, e.g., Midstate Medical Center v. Doe, 898 A.2d 282 (Conn. Super. Ct. 2006)).

    2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

      The Connecticut Practice Book outlines the correct procedure for filing using a pseudonym, in contrast to many states that lack procedural guidelines.

      CONN. PRACTICE BOOK § 11-20A (2010): Sealing Files or Limiting Disclosure of Documents in Civil Cases

      [Procedure for judge to weigh public interests and private interests for sealing documents. Narrower alternatives must not be practicable, such as the use of pseudonyms.]

      (h) (1) Pseudonyms may be used in place of the name of a party or parties only with the prior approval of the judicial authority and only if the judicial authority concludes that such order is necessary to preserve an interest which is determined to override the public's interest in knowing the name of the party or parties. The judicial authority shall first consider reasonable alternatives to any such order and any such order shall be no broader than necessary to protect such overriding interest. The judicial authority shall articulate the overriding interest being protected and shall specify its findings underlying such order and the duration of such order. If any findings would reveal information entitled to remain confidential, those findings may be set forth in a sealed portion of the record. The time, date, scope and duration of any such order shall forthwith be reduced to writing and be signed by the judicial authority and be entered by the court clerk in the court file. The judicial authority shall order that a transcript of its decision be included in the file or prepare a memorandum setting forth the reasons for its order. An agreement of the parties that pseudonyms be used shall not constitute a sufficient basis for the issuance of such an order. The authorization of pseudonyms pursuant to this section shall be in place of the names of the parties required by Section 7-4A. [Further procedure is outlined in following sections.]

      CONN. PRACTICE BOOK § 25-59A (2010): Sealing Files or Limiting Disclosure of Documents in Family Matters

      [A similar procedure to above is spelled out.]

      Advance Release Opinions (last visited Apr. 20, 2010) provides appellate and Supreme Court opinions since 2000. They are not text-searchable.

    3. Relevant Statutes

      • CONN. GEN. STAT. § 19a-583 (2010): Limitations on disclosure of HIV-related information

        (10) Any person allowed access to such information [i.e., a person with access to confidential HIV-related information] by a court order which is issued in compliance with the following provisions: . . . (B) Pleadings pertaining to disclosure of confidential HIV-related information shall substitute a pseudonym for the true name of the subject of the test. The disclosure to the parties of the subject's true name shall be communicated confidentially, in documents not filed with the court.

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  8. Delaware

    1. Caselaw

      Delaware has no officially reported cases in which plaintiffs proceed as Does. Unreported cases with Doe plaintiffs are only civil actions brought on behalf of child victims of sexual assault.

      • Doe v. Green, No. 06C-04-005 ESB, 2008 WL 282319 (Del. Super. Ct. 2008) – Court notes that Doe is a pseudonym. Id. at *1 n.1.

      • Doe v. Hollingsworth, No. 06C-07-031-RFS, 2007 WL 4575839 (Del. Super. Ct. 2007) – no mention.

    2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

      DEL. SUPER. CT. CIV. R. 10 (2010). Form of pleadings

      (a) Caption: Names of parties. -- Every pleading shall contain a caption setting forth the name of the Court, the title of the action, the file number, and a designation as in Rule 7(a). In the complaint the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties, but in other pleadings it is sufficient to state the name of the first party on each side with an appropriate indication of other parties.

      Delaware State Courts Opinions and Orders (last visited Apr. 20, 2010) provides records to all courts dating back to 2000, as well as from 1996 and 1909.

    3. Relevant Statutes

      • DEL. SUP. CT. R. 7 (2010): Commencement of appeal

        (d) Use of pseudonyms. -- All appeals concerning domestic relations matters shall be captioned and reported with the full names of the individual parties, except that the following shall be captioned and reported by use of appropriate pseudonyms selected by the Court: matters concerning adoption, termination of parental rights, child custody and visitation, juvenile delinquency proceedings and any other domestic relations matters, which in the discretion of the trial court, a lower appellate court or this Court, are deemed to be of a sensitive nature. In such cases, the parties shall, within 10 days of the filing of the notice of appeal submit to the Court for its approval a stipulation providing for the use of pseudonyms, which sets forth and is consistent with the pseudonyms used in the court below or, in the absence of a stipulation, the Court may order the use of pseudonyms sua sponte.

      • 16 DEL. C. § 711 (2010): Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Confidentiality of records and information

        (5) Release is made during the course of civil or criminal litigation to a person allowed access to said records by a court order which is issued in compliance with the following provisions: . . . (b). Pleadings pertaining to disclosure of such records shall substitute a pseudonym for the true name of the subject of the records. The disclosure to the parties of the subject's true name shall be communicated confidentially, in documents not filed with the court.

      • 16 DEL. C. § 1203 (2010): Informed Consent and Confidentiality: HIV-related tests: Confidentiality

        (10) A person allowed access to said [confidential HIV health] record by a court order which is issued in compliance with the following provisions: . . . (b). Pleadings pertaining to disclosure of test results shall substitute a pseudonym for the true name of the subject of the test. The disclosure to the parties of the subject's true name shall be communicated confidentially, in documents not filed with the court.

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  9. District of Columbia

    1. Caselaw

      No cases are directly on point or address plaintiff pseudonymity. Analogies can be drawn to the facts and claims of the following cases with psuedonymous plaintiffs.

      • Doe v. Berabei & Wachtel, PLLC, 116 A.3d 1262 (D.C. 2015) — Doe was a journalist who had alleged she had been sexually harassed by her superior. After settling that matter in a separate complaint, she brought this case for damages against other persons who had used, in a separate proceeding, a video she had recorded of her superior harassing her. Court does not address pseudonymity of plaintiff.
      • A.R. v. F.C., 33 A.3d 403, 404 (D.C. 2011) — A.R. filed petition for civil protective order alleging sexual assault by her ex-boyfriend’s friend. It was denied in the trial court, but reversed on appeal because a CPO was available even where plaintiff had no prior relationship with the alleged offender. Court does not address pseudonymity of plaintiff.
      • Doe v. Medlantic Health Care Group, Inc., 814 A.2d 939 (D.C. 2003) — HIV-positive plaintiff sued hospital for invasion of privacy and breach of confidential relationship based on their employee disclosing his medical condition and getting improper access to his records. Plaintiff won a jury verdict, which had then been dismissed on statute of limitations grounds by the trial judge. The appeals court reversed. The court addressed pseudonymity to note that plaintiff was allowed to proceed in this manner “because of the nature of the case.” Id. at 942 n.1.
    2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

      1. D.C. R. Civ. P. 10(a): (a) Caption; Names of Parties. Every pleading shall contain a caption setting forth the name of the court, the title of the action, the file number, a designation as in Rule 7(a), and the name or names of the party or parties on whose behalf the pleading is filed. If the case has been assigned to a specific calendar or a single judge, the calendar number or the judge's name shall appear below the file number on every pleading. In the complaint the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties, but in other pleadings it is sufficient to state the name of the 1st party on each side with an appropriate indication of other parties.
      2. D.C. Court of Appeals opinions back to 1998 are available for free at the D.C. Courts Opinion Locator.
    3. Relevant Rules

      1. D.C. R. Civ. P. 5-III. Sealed or Confidential Documents (a) Absent statutory authority, no case or document may be sealed without an order from the Court. Any document filed with the intention of being sealed shall be accompanied by a motion to seal or an existing order. The document will be treated as sealed, pending the ruling on the motion. Failure to file a motion to seal will result in the pleading being placed in the public record. (b) Unless otherwise ordered or otherwise specifically provided in these Rules, all documents submitted for a confidential in camera inspection by the Court, which are the subject of a Protective Order, which are subject to an existing order that they be sealed, or which are the subject of a motion for such orders, shall be submitted to the Clerk securely sealed. The envelope/box containing such documents shall contain a conspicuous notation such as “DOCUMENT UNDER SEAL” or “DOCUMENTS SUBJECT TO PROTECTIVE ORDER” or the equivalent. (c) The face of the envelope/box shall also contain the case number, the title of the Court, a descriptive title of the document and the case caption unless such information is to be, or has been, included among the information ordered sealed. The face of the envelope/box shall also contain the date of any order or the reference to any statute permitting the item to be sealed. (d) Filings of sealed materials shall be made only in the Clerk's Office during regular business hours. Such filings of sealed materials at the security desk are prohibited because the Security Officers are not authorized to accept this material.
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  10. Florida – Pseudonym Litigation

    1. Introduction

      There may be certain situations in which a WMC plaintiff will seek to protect his or her privacy through pseudonym litigation. Florida courts generally allow a party to proceed anonymously if specific criteria are met.

    2. Text of Statute

      No applicable statutory authority.

    3. Cases

      1. Roe, II v. Aware Woman Ctr. for Choice, Inc., 253 F.3d 678 (11th Cir. 2001)

        • Procedural Posture: On appeal from lower court’s decision denying plaintiff the right to proceed anonymously on her suit under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (“FACE”).

        • Law: Right to proceed anonymously

        • Facts: Plaintiff alleged that she had been injured while receiving an abortion procedure at defendant clinic, and that she was prevented from leaving to obtain other care, resulting in a perforated uterus and substantial hospitalization. Plaintiff alleged a claim under FACE. Plaintiff appealed the district court’s decision dismissing her claim and denying her the right to proceed anonymously.

        • Outcome: The Eleventh Circuit vacated the dismissal and allowed plaintiff to proceed anonymously. The court first held that the complaint sufficiently alleged that abortion providers had limited her “reproductive health services” within the meaning of FACE where plaintiff alleged they’d restrained her from leaving the facility to receive care at an ER when she had been injured.1 The court further held that plaintiff should be allowed to proceed anonymously because abortion is a “highly sensitive and intensely private matter,” and because plaintiff had offered to disclose her identity to defendants for discovery purposes.2

      2. Plaintiff B. v. Francis, 631 F.3d 1310 (11th Cir. 2011)

        • Procedural Posture: Appeal from district court decision denying plaintiffs the right to proceed anonymously after newspaper group intervened to require that plaintiffs’ names be released.

        • Law: Right to proceed anonymously

        • Facts: Plaintiffs were four individuals who, while minors, were filmed for footage used in Girls Gone Wild. Years later, they sued for damages stemming from their involvement in the film. Two of the plaintiffs were depicted flashing their breasts, one was depicted participating in a homosexual sexual act with another girl, and the fourth was sexually assaulted and filmed by the Girls Gone Wild owner, who later was arrested for child abuse and prostitution. The district court denied the plaintiffs’ request to proceed anonymously because it determined that plaintiffs would be forced to reveal only “casual and voluntary sexual activity,” which, though embarrassing, does not constitute the type of private activity protected by law.3 The court also gave the plaintiffs’ minor status little weight given that they were no longer minors, and the events had occurred seven years earlier.4

        • Outcome: The court reversed the lower court’s decision for abuse of discretion. The court determined that the lower court had failed to consider the other “judicially recognized factors” at issue: whether the plaintiffs were minors; whether the plaintiffs were threatened with violence or physical harm by proceeding under their own names; and whether plaintiffs’ anonymity posed a unique threat of fundamental fairness to the defendant.5 The court then explained that the behavior was neither “casual” nor “voluntary,” since one plaintiff alleged she had been drugged, and another had unquestionably been assaulted.6 Moreover, the court had improperly disregarded expert testimony re psychological damages caused by labeling, and because the Internet Movie Database (“IMDb”) would “permanently identify” plaintiffs as “flashers,” as evidenced by the IMDb page of a previous plaintiff who had sued Girls Gone Wild and is now permanently identified online as a “flasher.”7

        • Special Notes: The court specifically noted that IMDb would label plaintiffs as the “stars” of these pornographic videos, and a general plea for openness was insufficient to outweigh plaintiffs’ interest in maintaining their privacy in this context.

      3. Doe v. Frank, 951 F.2d 320 (11th Cir. 1992)

        • Procedural Posture: On appeal from lower court decision denying plaintiff the right to proceed anonymously on his employment discrimination suit against the postal service.

        • Law: Right to proceed anonymously.

        • Facts: Plaintiff, a former postal service employee, sued the federal government, alleging that he had been discriminated against on account of his “physical handicap,” i.e., his alcoholism. The district court denied his request to proceed anonymously, and the Eleventh Circuit reviewed the decision for abuse of discretion.

        • Outcome: The court affirmed, holding that plaintiff had failed to put forth the required showing to establish a right to proceed anonymously. The court rejected plaintiff’s argument that anonymity was required because he was challenging the government, and because he would be forced to disclose information of the utmost secrecy, i.e. his alcoholism. First, the court explained that plaintiff had misinterpreted case law in which a court had determined that a suit against private plaintiffs does not call for anonymity as also standing for the assertion that a suit against the government does.8 Moreover, the court explained that revealing one’s alcoholism, while embarrassing, did not involve a matter “of a highly sensitive and personal nature,” a “real danger of physical harm,” or a situation in which disclosure would lead to injury.9 The court distinguished cases in which courts had protected those with mental illness, homosexuality, transexuality, and other similar situations where a “social stigma” attached.10

        • Special Notes: The court laid out the Fifth Circuit’s three-part analysis for anonymous litigation. The test considers whether: (1) plaintiffs are challenging government activity; (2) plaintiffs must disclose information of the utmost intimacy; and (3) plaintiffs are compelled to admit their intention to engage in illegal misconduct, thereby risking criminal liability.11

    4. Practice Pointers

      Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(a) requires that a complaint state the parties. But federal courts depart from this rule to protect a plaintiff’s privacy interests where he or she establishes that: (1) he or she is challenging government activity; (2) revealing his or her identity would disclose information of the utmost intimacy; or (3) he or she is being compelled to admit his or her intention to engage in illegal conduct, thereby risking criminal liability.”12

      The court should also consider the presence of other factors, such as whether a plaintiff was threatened with violence or physical harm by proceeding under his or her own name, and whether a plaintiff’s anonymity posed a unique threat of fundamental fairness to the defendant

      A decision denying anonymity is a final appealable order under the collateral order doctrine.13

    1. Roe, II v. Aware Woman Ctr. for Choice, Inc., 253 F.3d 678, 683-84 (11th Cir. 2001). 

    2. Id. at 686-87. 

    3. Plaintiff B. v. Francis, 631 F.3d 1310, 1314 (11th Cir. 2011). 

    4. Id. 

    5. Id. at 1316. 

    6. Id. 

    7. Id. at 1318. 

    8. Doe v. Frank, 951 F.2d 320, 323-24 (11th Cir. 1992). 

    9. Id. at 324. 

    10. Id. 

    11. Id. at 323 (citing Doe v. Stegall, 653 F.2d 180, 185 (5th Cir. 1981)).  Fifth Circuit precedent issued prior to the Eleventh Circuit’s September 30, 1981 formation is binding precedent in the Eleventh Circuit.  See Bonner v. City of Prichard, Ala., 661 F.2d 1206, 1208 (11th Cir. 1981). 

    12. Stegall, 653 F.2d at 185. 

    13. Id. at 183. 

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  11. Georgia

    1. Caselaw

      Georgia trial courts can allow the plaintiff to use a pseudonym, for example where confidential records are at issue:

      • Doe v. Hall, 579 S.E.2d 838 (Ga. Ct. App. 2003) – Doe’s confidential HIV records are improperly disclosed, and Doe appeals the trial court’s denial of his motion to proceed with a pseudonym. The instant court holds on interlocutory appeal that the trial court has discretion to grant the motion, yet did not exercise such discretion, and remands.

      • Doe v. Board of Regents of University System of Georgia, 452 S.E.2d 776 (Ga. Ct. App. 1994) – Jane Doe sues for injunction to keep student newspaper from receiving police records under the state’s open records act and revealing her name and position as employee of the university, pertaining to her falsified allegations of rape on the university’s campus. No discussion of pseudonym.

      • Other Reported cases from Georgia with Doe plaintiffs include victims of sexual assaults bringing civil suits under negligence theories. These are not particularly relevant to a privacy tort plaintiff seeking to draw an analogy.

      • Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority v. Doe, 664 S.E.2d 893 (Ga. Ct. App. 2008) – Doe attacked and abducted from Defendant’s property and subsequently raped. Court notes: “The plaintiff's actual name was not used so as to protect her privacy.” Id. at 532 n.1.

      • Doe v. Briargate Apartments, Inc., 489 S.E.2d 170 (Ga. Ct. App. 1997) – Doe beaten and raped in her apartment by intruder. No mention of pseudonym.

    2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

      Georgia’s Uniform Rules of Court—Filing and Processing do not include a requirement that filings bear the name of the parties:

      Rule 36.3. Caption.

      “Every document or pleading presented for filing in a superior court shall bear a caption which sets out the exact nature of the pleading or the type of complaint.”

      But see Rule 39.2, which states that the real names of parties will appear on the docket.

      “Each action in the civil docket shall be indexed by the names of all parties to the action number or the civil docket book and page number.”

      The Supreme Court of Georgia (last visited Apr. 20, 2010) has forthcoming opinions of the Supreme Court as well as opinions dating back to 2008.

    3. Relevant Statutes

      • GA. CODE ANN. § 31-9A-7 (2010): Woman’s Right to Know: Preservation of patient anonymity in civil proceedings

        In any civil proceeding or action relating to this chapter or a breach of duty under this chapter, the court shall rule whether the anonymity of any female upon whom an abortion has been performed shall be preserved from public disclosure if she does not give her consent to such disclosure. The court, upon motion or sua sponte, shall make such a ruling and, upon determining that her anonymity should be preserved, shall issue orders to the parties, witnesses, and counsel and shall direct the sealing of the record and exclusion of individuals from courtrooms or hearing rooms to the extent necessary to safeguard her identity from public disclosure. Each such order shall be accompanied by specific written findings explaining why the anonymity of the female should be preserved from public disclosure, why the order is essential to that end, how the order is narrowly tailored to serve that interest, and why no reasonable less restrictive alternative exists. This Code section may not be construed to conceal the identity of the plaintiff or of witnesses from the defendant.

      • GA. UNIF. JUV. CT. R. 6.4 (2009): Style of the Petition:

        [Guards the child’s anonymity, and upon appeal.]

      • A similar rule exists for proceedings to terminate parental rights. See GA. CODE ANN. § 15-11-95 (2010).

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  12. Hawaii

    1. Caselaw

      Hawaii has three reported cases of actions against the state for claims invasions of privacy, inter alia, brought by Doe plaintiffs:

      • Doe v. City and County of Honolulu, 816 P.2d 306 (Haw. Ct. App. 1991) – Doe is a fireman employed by Defendant; he brings state and federal constitutional challenge against Defendant’s suspicionless annual urine drug tests and does so “‘anonymously to protect himself from breach of privacy, harassment, injury, ridicule, and/or embarrassment.’ The circuit court permitted plaintiff to pursue the action under the fictitious name of ‘JOHN DOE.’” Id. at 573 n.1 (citations omitted). The instant court did not further touch on Plaintiff’s pseudonymity.

      • Doe v. City and County of Honolulu, 6 P.3d 362 (Haw. Ct. App. 2000) – Doe is female police officer employed by Defendant who brings claims of invasion of privacy, sexual assault and battery, and false imprisonment stemming from being groped by male physician employed by Defendant to conduct physicals. No mention is made of pseudonymity.

      • Kimberly v. State, No. 23954, 2005 Haw. LEXIS 392 (Haw. 2005) (aff’d by 116 P.3d 7) – Plaintiff originally brought action under Doe pseudonym, but it was recaptioned to reflect true name. Id. at *1, n.1. Claim for sexual harassment, including federal and state constitutional privacy violations. Kimberly/Doe is transgendered former inmate allegedly harassed and subject to retaliation by guards.

      Another case, Estate of Doe v. Paul Revere Ins. Group, 948 P.2d 1103 (Haw. 1997), involves a claim against a private insurance company for breach of contract for failure to make payments on health and disability insurance where insured was perhaps HIV infected. The court did not address the Doe pseudonym. See also Smith v. Cutter Biological, Inc., a Div. of Miles Inc., 823 P.2d 717 (Haw. 1991) (Pseudonymous plaintiffs with hemophilia sue for HIV infection from Defendant’s medical blood products).

      Most reported cases with Doe plaintiffs, however, stem from family court proceedings such as custody disputes (Doe v. Doe, 120 P.3d 277 (Haw. Ct. App. 2005); Doe v. Doe, 122 P.3d 299 (Hawai‘i Ct. App. 2005); Doe v. Doe, 100 P.3d 606 (Haw. 2004)); divorces (Doe v. Doe, 192 P.3d 612 (Haw. Ct. App. 2008); Doe v. Doe, 106 P.3d 374 (Haw. 2004); Doe v. Doe, 52 P.3d 255 (Haw. 2002); Doe v. Doe, 54 P.3d 946 (Haw. Ct. App. 2002)); paternity (Doe v. Doe, 52 P.3d 255 (Haw. 2002)); and child support claims (Doe v. Doe, 83 P.3d 771 (Haw. Ct. App. 2004); Doe v. Doe, 34 P.3d 1059 (Haw. Ct. App. 2001)). Other Doe plaintiffs are also sexual assault victims bringing civil suits under negligence theories (Doe v. Grosvenor Center Associates, 92 P.3d 1010 (Haw. Ct. App., 2004)).

    2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

      HAW. R. CIV. P. 10. Form of Pleadings.

      (a) Caption; names of parties. Every pleading shall contain a caption setting forth the name of the court, the title of the action, the file number, and a designation as in Rule 7(a). In the complaint the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties, but in other pleadings it is sufficient to state the name of the first party on each side with an appropriate indication of other parties.

      Hawaiian cases are available through CourtConnect (last visited Apr. 20, 2010), and are searchable by party name or case type.

    3. Relevant Statutes

      HAW. REV. STAT. § 325-101 Confidentiality of Records and Information

      [Provides for confidentiality of records relating to AIDS and HIV.]

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  13. Idaho

    1. Caselaw

      Idaho has tacitly accepted Doe pseudonyms for privacy tort claims cases in one reported, but unpublished, case.

      • Doe v. Haw, No. CV OC 0205441D, 2003 WL 21015134 (Idaho, 2003) (not Reported in P.3d) – Doe had health and psychiatric issues resulting in an unnecessary hospitalization; she is treated by Defendant, a doctor, and he pays to publish a diatribe in local newspaper (also Defendant), against local medical board, reproducing in it a confidential letter he requested Doe write to medical board on his behalf, without her permission. Her name is reproduced in the newspaper. Doe sues for invasion of privacy, inter alia. The court does not address the use of the pseudonym.

      Other reported Doe cases are much less analogous, such as civil suits stemming from sexual assault of minors (Roe v. Albertson's Inc., 112 P.3d 812 (Idaho 2005); Doe v. Sisters of Holy Cross, 895 P.2d 1229 (Idaho Ct. App., 1995)), or parental rights cases (Roe Family Services v. Doe, 139 Idaho 930, 88 P.3d 749 (Idaho, 2004)).

    2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

      IDAHO R. CIV. PRO. 10(a)(1) (2010): Form of pleadings – Caption – Name of parties

      Every pleading, motion, notice, or judgment or order of the court shall . . . contain a caption setting forth the names of the parties . . . . In the complaint the title of the action shall include the names of all of the parties . . . .

      Idaho Supreme Court Opinions and appellate court opinions back to 2006 are available the Idaho State Judiciary website (last visited Apr. 10, 2010).

    3. Relevant Statutes

      • IDAHO CODE ANN. RULE 32 (2010): Records of the judicial department -- Examination and copying -- Exemption from and limitations on disclosure.

        This statute provides for confidentiality of certain types of information in court records. In some cases, courts can allow pseudonymity to provide this confidentiality. See § (h): Permissive Release of Judicial Decision in Exempted Categories.

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  14. Illinois

    1. Caselaw

      Two reported cases provide good examples for a privacy claims plaintiff seeking to proceed pseudonymously, as they revolve around protecting reputation.

      • Doe v. TCF Bank Illinois, FSB, 707 N.E.2d 220 (Ill. App. Ct.1999) – Doe, debtor of Defendant, sues for Defendant’ s disclosure to Doe’ s wife of his debt. Invasion of privacy claim. Court notes only that John Doe is not Plaintiff’ s name.

      • Doe v. Department of Professional Regulation, 606 N.E.2d 389 (Ill. App. Ct. 1992) – Doe seeks injunction to prevent administrative complaint by professional board stemming from irrevocable trusts made in Doe’ s name by a former patient, without Doe’ s knowledge or consent. No discussion of pseudonym.

      • One case involves pseudonyms for both plaintiff and defendant.

      • Doe v. Doe, 668 N.E.2d 1160 (Ill. App. Ct. 1996) – Plaintiff Jane Doe alleges her uncle, attorney John Doe, sexually molested her for several years when she was a minor. The court examines John Doe’ s request for pseudonyms under 735 ILL. COMP. STAT. 2-401(e), which the state rule of civil procedure for parties’ names and pseudonyms. The holding is not relevant as it is the defendant seeking a pseudonym, but the statute is.

      Cases involving medical privacy could be used to draw analogies. Illinois has several reported cases with Doe plaintiffs, but the opinions generally do not address the reason for use of the pseudonym.

      • Doe v. Illinois Dept. of Professional Regulation, 793 N.E.2d 119 (Ill. App. Ct. 2003) – Doe’ s doctor uses mental health records improperly; Doe seeks injunction to prevent further disclosure of the records. No discussion of pseudonym.

      • Doe v. Illinois State Medical Inter-Insurance Exchange, 599 N.E.2d 983 (Ill. App. Ct. 1992) – Doe is victim of medical malpractice. No discussion of pseudonym.

      • West Side Organization Health Services Corp. v. Thompson, 391 N.E.2d 392 (Ill. App. Ct. 1979) – Does treated at a drug treatment center, seeking injunctive relief to prevent re-allocation of government funds away from the center. No discussion of pseudonym.

      • Doe v. Channon, 781 N.E.2d 517 (Ill. App. Ct. 2002) – Doe involuntarily admitted to psychiatric unit; claims false imprisonment. No discussion of pseudonym.

      Other cases involve AIDS exposure, and are somewhat more distinguishable due to statutory protections regarding AIDS status:

      • Doe v. Noe No. 1, 707 N.E.2d 588 (Ill. App. Ct. 1998) – Doe is ob-gyn patient of Noe (also a pseudonym) who subsequently dies of AIDS; Doe never consented to be treated by a doctor with AIDS and sues for emotional distress. No mention.

      • Majca v. Beekil, 701 N.E.2d 1084 (Ill. 1998) – Doe plaintiffs are treated by dental students, one of which, Dr. Noe, has AIDS, but doesn’ t disclose this fact which comes out after treatment. Tort claims. Brief mention that Does and Noe are fictitious names as per § 735 ILCS 5/2-401(e), that “ upon application and for good cause shown the parties may appear under fictitious names.”

      • Doe v. Surgicare of Joliet, Inc., 643 N.E.2d 1200 (Ill. App. Ct. 1994) – Doe stuck with unclean needle but Defendant does not reveal this fact to Doe for months. Tort claims. No discussion of pseudonym.

      • Doe v. Dilling, 888 N.E.2d 24 (Ill. 2008) – Parents of Doe’ s recently deceased fiancé tell her he did not die of AIDS when in fact he did; she does not test or treat herself in timely manner. Claims for fraudulent misrepresentation. No mention of pseudonym.

      • Doe v. Chand, 781 N.E.2d 340 (Ill. App. Ct. 2002) – Doe’ s doctor violates state statute and reveals Doe has AIDS; statutory damages. No mention of pseudonym.

      • Doe v. Burgos, 638 N.E.2d 701 (Ill. App. Ct. 1994) – Doe is correctional officer bitten by inmate; seeks injunction for inmate to have AIDS tests and results. No mention of pseudonym.

      Illinois caselaw has many other, more distinguishable cases where civil plaintiffs sue as Does.

      Sexual assault or abuse of minors bringing civil suits as Does are plentiful, but protected with extra legislative heft (see below): Doe A. v. Diocese of Dallas, 885 N.E.2d 376 (Ill. App. Ct. 2008); Doe v. Goff, 716 N.E.2d 323 (Ill. App. Ct. 1999); In re Doe, 703 N.E.2d 413 (Ill. App. Ct. 1998); Doe v. Hinsdale Tp. High School Dist., 905 N.E.2d 343 (Ill. App. Ct. 2009); Doe v. Dimovski, 783 N.E.2d 193 (Ill. App. Ct. 2003). One case with an adult Doe plaintiff seeking damages from a sexual assault does acknowledge that the lower court’ s grant of leave to proceed under a pseudonym is evidence for the showing of the plaintiff’ s mental distress from her assault. Doe v. Terra Properties, Inc., 632 N.E.2d 665 (Ill. App. Ct. 1994); see also Doe v. Roe, 81 N.E.2d 640 (Ill. App. Ct. 1997) (Doe sues her attorney, Roe, for coercing her into sexual relations during her divorce proceeding).

      Family law cases such as Roe v. Jewish Children' s Bureau of Chicago, 790 N.E.2d 88 (Ill. App. Ct. 2003), involving misrepresentations of mental health of child being adopted, implicate family concerns that may be far afield from the interests of a privacy tort plaintiff, and consequently a poor analogy.

    2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

      735 ILL. COMP. STAT. 2-401(e)

      “ . . . (e) Upon application and for good cause shown the parties may appear under fictitious names.”

      Illinois Supreme Court and Appellate Court Opinions are available from the Illinois Courts website(last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

    3. Relevant Statutes

      • 705 ILL. COMP. STAT. 405/1-8 (2010): Confidentiality and accessibility of juvenile court records

        [In general it protects juvenile court records.]

      • 735 ILCS 5/2-401(e): Party

        1. Introduction

          If a victim of non-consensual publication of intimate images (a “WMC victim”) would like to protect her/his identity, s/he may petition the court for the right to proceed under a fictitious name. Generally, the right to bring suit under a pseudonym is disfavored by the courts, under the principle that “the public has a right to know who is utilizing the courts that its tax dollars support.”1 Therefore, a plaintiff will be granted a motion to proceed under a fictitious name only upon a showing of “good cause.” Illinois courts have held that protecting the privacy of vulnerable parties, such as children and victims of rape, constitutes “good cause” to use a fictitious name. Because there are no reported cases of victims of non-consensual publication of intimate images proceeding under fictitious names in Illinois, it is unclear whether a court would consider the privacy concerns of such victims “good cause.”

          Courts are unlikely to allow defendants of non-consensual publication of online images to proceed under a pseudonym because potential harm to the defendant’s reputation is insufficient to justify the use of a pseudonym.2 Furthermore, defendants cannot compel plaintiffs to use a fictitious name in order to protect their own identity.3

        2. Text of Statute(s)

          § 2-401. Designation of parties – Misnomer

          […]

          (e) Upon application and for good cause shown the parties may appear under fictitious names.

        3. Cases

          1. Doe v. Doe, 282 Ill.App.3d 1078 (1996)

            • Procedural Posture: Plaintiff filed an interlocutory appeal from an order prohibiting her from disclosing her name or the defendant’s name in a case alleging sexual molestation by the plaintiff’s uncle while the plaintiff was a minor.

            • Law: pseudonym law - 735 ILCS 5/2-401(e)

            • Facts: Plaintiff, alleging that her uncle sexually molested her for seven years while she was a minor, threatened to disclose her name after having filed a complaint using fictitious names for both parties at the request of the defendant. Defendant, an attorney, was granted an ex-parte emergency order prohibiting Plaintiff from disclosing their identities. Plaintiff’s motion to vacate the ex-parte order was denied. Defendant argued that potential harm to his reputation and to his wife and children justifies requiring both parties to proceed under fictitious names.

            • Outcome: The court found that the trial court abused its discretion when it granted the order prohibiting plaintiff from disclosing the parties’ identities. The judge held that damage to a defendant’s reputation is insufficient justification to use fictitious names and there is no justification to force a plaintiff to use a pseudonym against her/his wishes.4

        4. Practice Pointers

          Due to the presumption against allowing parties to proceed under a pseudonym, WMC victims may also consider asking leave of the court to file redacted versions of records or filing documents under seal in order to protect private images or facts.

    1. A.P. v. M.E.E., 354 Ill. App. 3d 989, 1003 (2004), citing Coe v. County of Cook, 162 F.3d 491, 498 (7th Cir. 1998). 

    2. See Doe v. Doe, 282 Ill. App. 3d. 1078 (1996). 

    3. Id. at 1082. 

    4. Doe v. Doe, 282, Ill. App.3d 1078, 1088-1089 (1996). 

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  15. Indiana

    1. Caselaw

      One reported case, Doe v. Town of Plainfield, 860 N.E.2d 1204 (Ind. Ct. App. 2007), examines a motion to proceed pseudonymously in the context of a sex offender challenging the placement of his information on the state’s sex offender registry, and creates a clear precedent. Doe brought an interlocutory appeal of a reconsideration of his motion, originally granted, to proceed pseudonymously. This was a case of first impression for the court. Id. at 1206-07. It looked to federal courts for guidance, citing Doe v. Shakur and James v. Jacobs, created a non-exhaustive nine-factor test, and balanced privacy and safety interests against state procedural rule, Ind. Admin. Rule 9(A), which stated the purposes and background presumption of open records. The court reversed, allowing Doe to proceed pseudonymously.

      Because Plainfield involves a sex offender, it is useful to look beyond its facts in order to create analogies for non-criminal privacy plaintiffs.

      One case allows a plaintiff with a privacy claim, invasion of privacy, to proceed pseudonymously: in Doe v. Methodist Hosp., 690 N.E.2d 681 (Ind. 1997), Doe discloses HIV positive status to paramedics during heart attack and hospital workers spread the information to Doe’s co-workers at his postal job. The court, however, does not mention the pseudonym.

      Other reported cases with Doe plaintiffs and no discussion of pseudonymity are less likely to provide helpful analogies to privacy plaintiffs seeking to proceed pseudonymously, such as cases where minors are involved in sexual harassment (Roe v. North Adams Community School Corp., 647 N.E.2d 655 (Ind. Ct. App. 1995) (Doe and Roe videotaped in locker room)) or sexual relations (Doe v. United Methodist Church, 673 N.E.2d 839 (Ind. Ct. App. 1996) (Doe coerced into sexual relationship with minister)). Family court matters are also not particularly helpful to analogize to (see, e.g., Roe v. Doe, 289 N.E.2d 528 (Ind. App. 1972) (custody dispute; no mention of pseudonym)), nor are cases with incapacitated adult plaintiffs (see, e.g., Res-Care, Inc. v. Indiana Family and Social Services Admin., 701 N.E.2d 1259 (Ind. Ct. App. 1998) (no mention of pseudonym in challenge to administrative ruling on Medicaid)).

    2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

      Ind. R. Trial P. 10 (2009): Form of pleading.

      (A) Caption -- Names of parties Every pleading shall contain a caption setting forth the name of the court, the title of the action, the file number, and a designation as in Rule 7(A). In the complaint the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties, but in other pleadings it is sufficient to state the name of the first party on each side with an appropriate indication of other parties.

      Indiana Courts Appellate Opinions, both published and unpublished, are available at the Indiana Courts website (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

    3. Relevant Statutes

      • IND. ADMIN. RULE 9(A): Access to court records.

        This rule outlines the state’s rule regarding public access to court records.

    Indiana Pseudonym Law

    Cases

    1. Introduction

      Indiana does not have a state statute pertaining to the use of pseudonyms when filing a cause of action. Indiana courts have recognized "that proceeding under a fictitious name is an unusual measure reserved for exceptional cases" and that "[t]here is no simple formula for determining when this unusual procedure is appropriate."1

    2. Cases

      1. Doe v. Town of Plainfield, 860 N.E.2d 1204 (Ind. Ct. App. 2007)
        • Procedural Posture: Interlocutory appeal from a trial court's grant of a motion to reconsider an order that had allowed the plaintiff to proceed pseudonymously
        • Law: Use of a pseudonym
        • Facts: In connection with a suit seeking a declaratory judgment that a local ordinance prohibiting individuals listed on the State of Indiana Sex Offender Registry from all parks and other recreational areas in the town was unconstitutional, a sex offender plaintiff filed a motion to allow him to proceed in the suit pseudonymously. The trial court granted plaintiff's motion to proceed as "Doe." The town defendant requested the trial court to reconsider its order. The trial court granted the defendant's motion and ordered that the disclosure of Doe's identity be stayed for thirty days or until a ruling on the interlocutory appeal.
        • Outcome: The appellate court noted that there was no Indiana case in which the use of a pseudonym was challenged. As a result, the court looked to federal law for guidance on the issue and noted a non-exhaustive list of factors identified by other courts as factors that should be considered in determining whether a plaintiff's interest in privacy is so significant as to outweigh the strong presumption favoring public identification of litigants. The appellate court analyzed the four factors identified by plaintiff as supporting his position and found that plaintiff did not waive his legal right to proceed pseudonymously by writing a letter to the defendant prior to the suit in which plaintiff threatened legal action against the defendant because nothing in that letter connected plaintiff to the case outside of the defendant's and his legal counsel's knowledge. The appellate court concluded that plaintiff's need for anonymity outweighed the presumption of openness in judicial proceedings and reversed and remanded the trial court's grant of the defendant's motion to reconsider.
        • Special Notes: Because this case involves a sex offender, it is useful to look beyond its facts in order to create analogies for non-criminal privacy plaintiffs. For example, Doe v. Methodist Hospital is a case that allows a plaintiff with an invasion of privacy claim to proceed pseudonymously. 2 In that case, the plaintiff disclosed his HIV-positive status to paramedics during a heart attack and hospital workers subsequently disclosed the information to the plaintiff's co-workers at his postal job. The court in Doe v. Methodist Hospital, however, does not discuss the plaintiff's use of a pseudonym in the case.
      2. In re the Paternity of K.D., 929 N.E.2d 863 (Ind. Ct. App. 2010)
        • Procedural Posture: Appeal of a trial court order prohibiting discussion of legal proceedings
        • Law: Use of a pseudonym; right of privacy; right of free speech
        • Facts: In a custody battle for a child born out of wedlock, the mother alleged that the father had sexually abused the child. After the juvenile court concluded that the sexual abuse allegations against the father were unsubstantiated and the mother's appeals to state government officials did not result in any action satisfactory to the mother, the mother decided to take her story to a local newspaper, which published several articles related to the mother's allegations of sexual abuse against the father. The father filed two petitions for rule to show cause. In one of the petitions, he asked the juvenile court to find the mother in contempt for having discussed the court's custody "order and on-going proceedings" with the local newspaper in violation of the Indiana Code of Juvenile Law. The juvenile court issued an order that denied the father's petitions for rule to show cause and also prohibited the mother from talking to the news media about the case. The mother appealed the juvenile court order, alleging that the order violated her right to free speech. The appellate court noted that the mother's desire to challenge the juvenile court order in the news media constituted political speech protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and that the juvenile court order prohibiting such speech constituted a prior restraint. In determining whether such prior restraint was valid, the appellate court analyzed whether the mother's exercise of her free speech right infringed on the rights of those individuals affected by her speech (i.e., the father and the child). The appellate court's analysis focused on the competing constitutional rights of the mother (right to free speech) and the child (right to privacy in personal matters).
        • Outcome: Although the appellate court indicated that the mother's right to free speech is not per se superior to the child's right of privacy, the court concluded that it could prohibit the disclosure of the child's name as well as the use of a pseudonym closely associated with the child's name. 3 The appellate court noted, however, that such prohibitions did not assure that the child's identity would remain confidential and that the mother's right to free speech entitled her to name herself, the father and other adults involved in the case, subject only to a tort action for defamation. 4 The appellate court reversed the juvenile court's order and remanded the case to the juvenile court for the court to enter a new order in accordance with the appellate court's opinion and that specifically prohibited the mother from disclosing information the mother learned exclusively through the juvenile proceedings and from disclosing the child's name and using a pseudonym similar to the child's name.5
        • Special Notes: The outcome in this case is limited to the circumstances, and the balance that the appellate court struck will not necessarily protect an alleged victim's identity, as a person may still exercise his or her free speech rights by publishing personal information. In addition, note that the appellate court in this case did not have any evidence before it that showed that the alleged victim suffered actual harm as a result of the news articles published in the local newspaper and, thus, did not consider whether evidence of such harm could be shown and whether that would change the result in the case.
      1. Doe v. Indiana Black Expo, Inc., 923 F. Supp. 137, 139 (S.D. Ind. 1996). 

      2. 690 N.E.2d 681 (Ind. 1997). 

      3. In re the Paternity of K.D., 929 N.E.2d 863, 875 (Ind. Ct. App. 2010). 

      4. Id. 

      5. In re the Paternity of K.D., 929 N.E.2d at 875. 

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    1. Iowa

      1. Caselaw

        Iowa courts declined to create a rule for proceeding pseudonymously in Riniker v. Wilson, 623 N.W.2d 220 (Iowa Ct. App. 2000). Plaintiffs, a married couple, filed pseudonymously. They claimed negligence, assault and batter, emotional distress, sexual abuse, and loss of consortium stemming from threats made to the wife to engage in a sexual relationship with the husband’s boss. The lower court granted defendant’s motion to force plaintiffs to use their real names, after they filed as John and Jane Doe, into trial. The instant court noted that no formal procedure existed for the plaintiffs to request to proceed pseudonymously, but that many cases allowed such pseudonymous plaintiffs, and other jurisdictions balance interests of the parties and the public. The court, however, declined to formulate a rule in the absence of legislation. Even though the defendant would have suffered no prejudice if Plaintiffs were pseudonymous, the trial court had already granted Defendants’ motion, and the instant court affirmed a directed verdict on the issue.

        Other reported Iowa cases with pseudonymous Doe plaintiffs currently only encompass claims stemming from sexual abuse, as in Riniker, or in domestic violence cases, such as Doe v. Iowa Dist. Court for Scott County, 734 N.W.2d 486 (Iowa Ct. App. 2007) (unpublished opinion) (concerning the court’s jurisdiction over abuse occurring out of state). With no legislative rule, there is little guidance in Iowa.

        There is, however, statutory confidentiality regarding disciplinary investigations against doctors and other, similar professionals, which results in Doe plaintiffs where such investigations are challenged. See, e.g., Doe v. Iowa State Bd. of Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy Examiners, 320 N.W.2d 557 (Iowa 1982).

      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        IOWA R. CIV. PRO. 1.411 (2010): Caption and Signature

        “Required information. Each appearance, notice, motion, or pleading shall be captioned with the title of the case, naming the court, parties, and instrument . . . .”

        Iowa Supreme Court opinions are available at the Iowa Supreme Court website (last visited Apr. 20, 2010). Other court records are searchable by title, but only available for a $25 per year subscription fee. See Online Docket Record (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

      3. Relevant Statutes

        • IOWA CODE § 22.7 (2008): Confidential Records:

          This denotes types of information and the types of records to be kept confidential, although it does not directly mention court records.

        • IOWA CODE § 141A.9 (2008): AIDS: Confidentiality of Information:

          g. To a person allowed access to an HIV-related test result by a court order which is issued in compliance with the following provisions: . . . (2) Pleadings pertaining to disclosure of test results shall substitute a pseudonym for the true name of the subject of the test. The disclosure to the parties of the subject's true name shall be communicated confidentially in documents not filed with the court.

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    2. Kansas

      1. Caselaw

        A Kansas case demonstrates that Kansas Supreme Court allows pseudonymous plaintiffs and adopts a nine factor test derived from federal caselaw.

        • Unwitting Victim v. C.S., 47 P.3d 392 (Kan. 2002) – Plaintiff sued his ex-fiance for giving him herpes. He filed under the pseudonym “Unwitting Victim.” In considering the issue of pseudonymous plaintiffs for the first time, the Kansas court first interpreted KAN. STAT. ANN. § 60-207. There was no previous Kansas caselaw on point, so the court turned to Tenth Circuit cases, which “convinced [the court] that § 60-210(a) should not act as an absolute bar to suits identifying a plaintiff by a pseudonym. Although pseudonymous or pseudonymous litigation is an atypical procedure, where an important privacy interest outweighs the public interest in the identity of the plaintiff, the plaintiff should be allowed to proceed anonymously.” Id. at 398. Second, the court adopted an abuse of discretion standard to evaluate a trial court’s ruling on a motion to proceed pseudonymously. The court then adopted a procedure for filing pseudonymously from Joan Steinman, Public Trial, Pseudonymous Parties: When Should Litigants be Permitted to Keep Their Identities Confidential, 37 Hastings L.J. 1 (1985). Fourth, the court adopted the balancing test from a Tenth Circuit case, M.M. v. Zavaras, 139 F.3d 798 (10th Cir. 1998)—a district court must weigh the plaintiff's claimed right to privacy against the countervailing public interest militating against pseudonymity—to assess the merits of pseudonymity. The court adopted the nine factors listed in Steinman, supra, to use in the balancing test. In the instant case, the Plaintiff alleged catching an STD and worked in the heath care industry as a hygienist, and the trial court disallowed the pseudonym. The Court applied the new balancing test and held that the lower court did not abuse its discretion in denying the use.
      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        KAN. STAT. ANN. § 60-210 (2009): Pleadings allowed, forms of motions and petitions:

        (a) Caption; names of parties. Every pleading shall contain a caption setting forth the name of the court, the title of the action, the file number, and a designation as in K.S.A. 60-207 (a). In the petition the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties, but in other pleadings it is sufficient to state the name of the first party on each side with an appropriate indication of other parties.

        Kansas Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Opinions are fully searchable at the Kansas Judicial Branch website (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

      3. Relevant Statutes

        • KAN. STAT. ANN. § 45-221 (2009): Certain records not required to be open

          This statute determines which public records are to be maintained confidentially, but does not on its face mention court records.

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    3. Kentucky

      1. Caselaw

        One reported case provides a possible analogy for other plaintiffs seeking pseudonymity:

        • Doe v. Golden & Walters, PLLC, 173 S.W.3d 260 (Ky. Ct. App. 2005) – Doe plaintiffs claim legal malpractice against Defendant arising from federal district court cases based on alleged sexual abuse of Does when they were minors. The federal cases were captioned with the Doe pseudonym. The Kentucky court notes: “All of the named plaintiffs in the instant case actually filed using John Doe or Jane Doe pseudonyms, as did the named plaintiffs in Doe I, Doe II, and Doe III,” the federal cases from which the malpractice claim arose. Id. at 263 n.8.

        Other cases have tacitly allowed pseudonymous plaintiffs:

        • Doe v. Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington, No. 03-CI-00181, 2006 WL 250694 (Ky. Cir. Ct. 2006) – Does, representing a class, bring suit against Defendant for abuse suffered by Does when they were minors. No discussion of pseudonym.

      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records KY. CR RULE 10.01 (2009): Caption – Names of Parties

        Every pleading shall have a caption setting forth the name of the court, the style of the action, the file number, and a designation as in Rule 7.01. In the complaint the style of the action shall include the names of all the parties, but in other pleadings it is sufficient to state the name of the first party on each side with an appropriate indication of other parties.

        Kentucky Supreme Court Opinions, both published and unpublished, are searchable at the Kentucky Court of Justice website (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

      3. Relevant Statutes

        For confidentiality of juvenile court records, see KY. REV. STAT. ANN. § 610.340 (2010).

        Other confidentiality/expungement statutes include: KY. REV. STAT. ANN. § 202B.180 (2010) (mental retardation admission); KY. REV. STAT. ANN. § 202A.091 (2010) (hospitalization of the mentally ill).

        • See also KY. REV. STAT. ANN. § 214.625 (2010) [AIDS: Confidentiality]:

          (10). A person allowed access by a court order which is issued in compliance with the following provisions: . . . (b). Pleadings pertaining to disclosure of test results shall substitute a pseudonym for the true name of the subject of the test. The disclosure to the parties of the subject's true name shall be communicated confidentially, in documents not filed with the court . . . .

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    4. Louisiana

      1. Caselaw

        Reported caselaw from Louisiana with Doe plaintiffs falls into two broad categories, with one wildcard Doe case. No in-depth discussions of pseudonyms were included in the opinions.

        One category treats medically-related claims, such as medical malpractice and negligence resulting in HIV or other disease infection.

        • Three cases include claims stemming from HIV infection: Doe v. McNulty, 630 So.2d 825 (La. Ct. App. 1993) (failure to timely diagnose AIDS; court notes: “Out of respect for the plaintiff, we will use the pseudonym supplied by the parties. Her correct status is contained in the record.” Id. at 826 n.1); Doe v. Southern Baptist Hosp., 717 So.2d 654 (La. Ct. App. 1998) (blood transfusion); Doe v. Doctors Bryan, Hatcher, Vick and Hastings, 625 So.2d 722 (La. Ct. App. 1993) (improperly capped needle).

        • One confusingly captioned case, *Doe v. Our Lady of Lake Hosp.*, 633 So.2d 237 (La. Ct. App. 1993), stems from medical malpractice, but the caption seems to be an unsuccessful ploy by the plaintiff not to be bound by res judicata of other proceedings where she is named. No discussion of procedure to file as Doe.

        The second category of cases stem from claims relating to sexual abuse, either of adults, or minors.

        • Some are cases with claims stemming from sexual relationships with doctors, in which the doctors’ identity is also protected: Doe v. Doe, 657 So.2d 628 (La. Ct. App. 1995) (Doe’s therapist has sex with her during therapy; Defendant also begins treating Doe’s husband); Doe v. Doe, 671 So.2d 466 (La. Ct. App. 1995) (Doe had long-term homosexual relationship with his dentist; complaint is later amended to reveal true name, but no discussion in opinion).

        • Cases stemming from aggravated sexual assault of adults, generally having a very surface discussion of pseudonyms, if at all, are also easily distinguishable in terms of the plaintiff’s great interest in privacy as victim of stigmatizing crime: Doe v. Breedlove, 906 So.2d 577 (La. Ct. App. 2005) (Doe is drugged and raped by acquaintance; court notes pseudonym use but does not discuss further); Doe v. Board of Sup'rs of Louisiana State University, 517 So.2d 488 (La. Ct. App. 1987) (Doe, student at LSU, raped on premises; court notes trial court sealed identity of plaintiff); Smith v. Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Dept., 874 So.2d 863 (La. Ct. App. 2004) (Smith (pseudonym) raped by police officer).

        • Cases with minor Does plaintiffs are less on point given Louisiana’s protection of juveniles by statute (see below). In case they are helpful, citations are: Doe v. Archdiocese of New Orleans, 823 So.2d 360 (La. Ct. App. 2002); Doe v. Ainsworth, 540 So.2d 425 (La. Ct. App. 1989); Doe v. Roman Catholic Church, 656 So.2d 5 (La. Ct. App. 1995) (each adult Doe in the three proceeding cases sued for abuse as child by priest); Doe v. Louisiana Mun. Ass'n, 746 So.2d 179 (La. Ct. App. 1999).

        The last type of case is a wildcard: a family contests a now-defunct practice of the state of race in birth records under a now-repealed statute, and request their ancestors’ classification change from “colored” to “white.” The caption has a Doe plaintiff, but the entire family is named in the first paragraph of the opinion. See Doe v. State, Through Dept. of Health and Human Resources, Office of Vital Statistics, 479 So.2d 369 (La. Ct. App. 1985).

      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        Louisiana’s rule for form of pleadings in the trial courts does not mention the name of parties. See LA. DIST. CT. R. 9.6 (2010): Form of the Pleadings.

        Opinions dating back to 1996 are searchable by case type, docket, or text, at the Louisiana Supreme Court website (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

      3. Relevant Statutes

        • LA. CHILD. CODE ANN. art. 412 (2010) protects the confidentiality of juvenile records in general.

        • LA. REV. STAT. Ann. § 40:1299.35.6 (2010) A Woman’s Right to Know:

          This gives a civil plaintiff in proceedings arising from violation of this statute, which deals with abortion, the ability to proceed using initials or a pseudonym to preserve her privacy.

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    5. Maine

      1. Caselaw

        The only potentially relevant reported Doe case from Maine concerns a challenge by Doe plaintiffs to the validity of publication of the invalidation of employee disciplinary actions. Does seek to halt publication. This implicates Maine’s mini-FOIA statute and confidentiality of public records. There is no discussion of the Doe pseudonym. An analogy could be drawn to the privacy interests of the plaintiffs in keeping their public records private. See Doe v. Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation, and Substance Abuse Services, 699 A.2d 422 (Me. 1997).

      2. Filing Requirements and & Availability of Court Records

        ME. R. CIV. P. 10 (2010): Form of Pleadings

        (a) Caption; Names of Parties. Every pleading shall contain a caption setting forth the name of the court, the county in the Superior Court, the location of the District Court, the title of the action, the docket number, and a designation as in Rule 7(a). In the complaint the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties, but in other pleadings it is sufficient to state the name of the first party on each side with an appropriate indication of other parties.

        Maine Judicial Branch’s Supreme Court opinions are searchable at http://www.courts.state.me.us/court_info/opinions/supreme/index.shtml (back to 1997) and some Superior Court opinions and order are available at http://www.courts.state.me.us/court_info/opinions/superior/index.shtml or http://webapp.usm.maine.edu/SuperiorCourt/, which is searchable by name or text (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

      3. Relevant Statutes

        None noted.

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    6. Maryland

      1. Caselaw

        Maryland’s appellate courts have taken a detailed look at sealed records in conjunction with the presumption of open courts, but did not formulate as formulaic a rule as in federal courts.

        • Doe v. Shady Grove Adventist Hosp., 598 A.2d 507 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 1991) – Doe is hospitalized and reveals he has AIDS; doctors and nurses betray confidentiality and informs Doe’s family and friends. In filing suit for invasion of privacy and breach of confidentiality, Doe moved for injunctions to bar Defendants from revealing any more, and to sue under a pseudonym, and the trial court granted the motion. Newspapers intervened to learn Doe’s identity, and the motion was overturned. Doe appealed. In its analysis, the court cited and weighed federal and state opinions demonstrating First Amendment interests in open courts, the constitutional right to privacy, as well as state statutes about confidentiality of health records, and the need for plaintiffs to be able to effectively pursue judicial enforcement of rights. Finding no state cases on point, the court turned to federal cases, including Stegall, but fashioned no specific test. It determined that there was a compelling government interest in protecting Doe’s identity, and that because Doe had carefully guarded his identity to date, he had not waived confidentiality.

        • King v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 850 A.2d 428 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2004) – State farm sought to keep its identity as a defendant in an auto accident tort case, due to its insurance of a party, from the jury. The court distinguished the instant matter to federal cases including Stegall and Shady Grove, and held that keeping from the jury the fact that the insurer had been joined as a party was non-harmless error.

        Other reported cases from Maryland with Doe plaintiffs, but less discussion of pseudonymity in the opinions, run the gamut:

        • Doe v. Board of Educ. of Montgomery County, 453 A.2d 814 (Md. 1982) – Does are students with learning disabilities and parents, suing for lack of accommodation in public schools. Court notes that plaintiff’s counsel asserted that “it is not necessary at this time to publicly disclose Plaintiff's name as it would result in further psychological injury,” but is otherwise silent on issue of pseudonymity. Id. at 814 n.1.

        • Doe v. Doe, 712 A.2d 132 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 1998), rev’d, 747 A.2d 617 – Does are divorcing couple where the paternity of the couple’s children is questioned. Court notes: “For reasons that will become obvious, the proper names of the parties have been redacted.” Id. at 135 n.1.

        • County Executive of Prince George's County v. Doe, 479 A.2d 352 (Md. 1984) – Does bring constitutional challenge to state abortion restriction laws. No discussion of pseudonymity.

        • Miles Laboratories, Inc. Cutter Laboratories Div. v. Doe, 556 A.2d 1107 (Md. 1989) – Doe plaintiffs, husband and wife, sue after medical procedure infects wife with HIV. No discussion of pseudonymity.

        • Doe v. Maskell, 679 A.2d 1087 (Md. 1996) – Doe and Roe claim sexual abuse as minors by priest; now adults. No discussion of pseudonymity.

      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        MD. RULE 1-301 (2009): Form of court papers

        (a) Caption and titling. Every pleading and paper filed shall contain a caption setting forth (1) the parties or, where appropriate, the matter, (2) the name of the court, (3) the assigned docket reference, and (4) a brief descriptive title of the pleading or paper which indicates its nature. An original pleading shall contain the names and addresses, including zip code, of all parties to the action if the names and addresses are known to the person filing the pleading. If the address of a party is unknown, the pleading shall so state. In other pleadings and papers, it is sufficient to state the name of the first party on each side with an appropriate indication of other parties.

        MD. RULE 2-201 (2009): “Every action shall be prosecuted in the name of the real party in interest . . . ."

        Maryland Appellate Court Opinions are available and searchable at http://www.courts.state.md.us/opinions.html (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

      3. Relevant Statutes

        None noted.

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    7. Massachusetts

      1. Caselaw

        Massachusetts has touched upon pseudonymity in caselaw:

        • Singer v. Rosenkranz, 903 N.E.2d 191 (Mass. 2009) – Plaintiff challenges denial of request to use pseudonym, attempting under Massachusetts procedural rules to get direct review by appeal court panel or Supreme Court. Instant court rules that the fact that petitioner's case involved confidential financial and medical information did not suffice to overcome the presumption in favor of public proceedings and affirms, as seen in Mass. R. Civ. P. 10 (a). The court cited federal cases in its holding, but did not apply a formalized rule.

        Massachusetts courts have also allowed, without remark, other plaintiffs to sue under pseudonyms, including:

        • White v. Gurnon, 855 N.E.2d 1124 (Mass. App. Ct. 2006) – Two female cadets at state-run military academy bring action against the school and its officers for failure to prevent sexual abuse by other cadets. Both plaintiffs proceed under pseudonyms, a fact merely noted by the court. Id. at 1124 n.1.

        • Incompetent, vegetative, adult seeking discontinuation of feeding tubes. See Guardianship of Doe, 583 N.E.2d 1263 (Mass. 1992).

        • A student seeking injunctive relief and alleging discriminatory enforcement of school dress code based on gender identity. See Doe ex rel. Doe v. Yunits, 15 Mass. L. Rptr. 278, 2001 WL 664947 (Mass. Super. 2001) (Doe is biologically male but has “gender identity disorder” and wishes to present as female, including clothing; school officials punished Doe for feminine clothing); see also Doe v. Superintendent of Schools of Worcester, 653 N.E.2d 1088 (Mass. 1995) (Doe is public school student challenging expulsion for carrying knife to school).

        • A husband challenging his wife’s decision to seek an abortion. See Doe v. Doe, 365 Mass. 556, 314 N.E.2d 128 (Mass. 1974).

        • Sex offenders challenging the state sex offender registry to sue as Does. See, e.g., Doe v. Sex Offender Registry Bd., 919 N.E.2d 717 (Mass. App. Ct. 2010) (challenging “high risk” status); Doe v. Walsh, No. 07-2052A, 2007 WL 2734289 (Mass. Super. 2007) (challenging status and use of GPS ankle bracelet); Doe v. Attorney General of Com., 10 Mass. L. Rptr. 709, 1999 WL 1260188 (Mass. Super. 1999) (challenging registration in Massachusetts where Doe plead guilty to a “like offense” in Florida).

        • Children alleging abuse and negligence at hands of state children’s service. See Doe v. Governor, 412 N.E.2d 325 (Mass. 1980).

        Likewise, plaintiffs seeking damages from sexual abuse by priests when they were children have sued as Does without remark by courts.

        • See, e.g., Doe v. Messier, 20 Mass. L. Rptr. 567, 2006 WL 619113 (Mass. Super. 2006).
      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        MASS. R. CIV. P. 10 (a): Caption: Name of Parties:

        “ . . . In the complaint the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties . . . .”

        Opinions from the Supreme Court and appellate courts are searchable at http://www.massreports.com/opinionarchive/ (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

      3. Relevant Statutes

        • Massachusetts has codified a right to privacy, at MASS. GEN. LAWS ch. 214, § 1B (2010):

          A person shall have a right against unreasonable, substantial or serious interference with his privacy. The superior court shall have jurisdiction in equity to enforce such right and in connection therewith to award damages.

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    8. Michigan

      1. Caselaw

        The Michigan court of appeals looked to the federal courts and the Stegall test in a 1982 case concerning a psychologist who had sex with his patient, Doe:

        • Doe v. Bodwin, 326 N.W.2d 473 (Mich. Ct. App. 1982) – Doe appealed the trial court’s denial of her motion to proceed pseudonymously. At the time, the issue was novel and only three Michigan cases had tacitly allowed Doe plaintiffs. The court looked to federal cases, and used a three factor balancing test from Stegall: “(1) prosecution of the suit compels the plaintiff to disclose information of a private nature; (2) the plaintiff seeks to challenge governmental or private activity; and (3) the plaintiff is compelled to admit an intention to engage in illegal conduct.” Id. at 475. The court noted that federal cases granting pseudonymity had a “common thread”: “the presence of some social stigma or the threat of physical harm to the plaintiff” from divulging their identity publicly. Id. The court used an abuse of discretion standard, as in Stegall, and found that the trial court failed to exercise discretion, as the trial judge approached the matter as already decided against Doe, and remanded to a new judge.

        Privacy tort plaintiffs have successfully litigated under pseudonyms:

        • Doe v. Mills, 536 N.W.2d 824 (Mich. Ct. App. 1995) – Doe and Roe sought abortions and are met by Defendants bearing signs with their true names, obtained from records in a dumpster, outside the abortion clinic, urging Doe and Roe not to undergo the procedures. Plaintiffs sue for invasion of privacy and public disclosure of embarrassing facts. The court does not discuss the pseudonyms.

        Other cases with no mention of why plaintiff proceeds as Doe include HIV issues:

        • Doe v. American Medical Pharmacies, Inc., 2002 WL 857766 (Mich. Ct. App. 2002) (Doe sues for emotional distress caused by revelation of his HIV positive status to family members and community when pharmacist yells it out loud in doctors waiting room).

        • Doe v. Department of Corrections, 641 N.W.2d 269 (Mich. Ct. App. 2001) (Does are female prisoners bringing civil rights challenge to their denial of placement on work farms, allegedly because they are HIV positive).

        There are also cases stemming from sexual assault in which courts allow, tacitly, Doe plaintiffs:

        • Doe v. Department of Social Services, 487 N.W.2d 166 (Mich. 1992) (Minor Doe and her mother sue for refund from abortion due to rape of Doe, bringing a constitutional challenge to law preventing Medicaid from funding abortion); Doe v. Shapiro, No. 273950, 2008 WL 583556 (Mich. Ct. App. 2008) (not reported) (Does are sexually assaulted while under anesthesia by their doctor); Doe v. City of Detroit, No. 225409, 2002 WL 1747946 (Mich. Ct. App. 2002) (Doe alleged she is raped by police officer); Doe v. Roman Catholic Archbishop of Archdiocese of Detroit, 692 N.W.2d 39 (Mich. Ct. App. 2004) (Doe sues for sexual assault when he was a child). Plaintiffs are also pseudonymous in family cases, such as Doe v. Oettle, 293 N.W.2d 760 (Mich. Ct. App. 1980) (Doe mother challenges parental rights termination, no discussion of pseudonym).

        Family law cases also allow pseudonymous plaintiffs.

        • Doe v. Kelley, 307 N.W.2d 438 (Mich. Ct. App. 1981) – Plaintiffs bring constitutional challenge against state’s adoption code which prevents payment in exchange for adoption or related proceedings, including surrogate motherhood.

        Some cases define easy categorization, and Michigan courts allowed pseudonymity:

        • Doe v. Oceola Tp., 270 N.W.2d 254 (Mich. Ct. App. 1978) (Doe trespasses in a field and then tries to claim the suitcase stuffed with money he allegedly found there); Doe v. Department of Management & Budget, No. 183993, 1997 WL 33353447 (Mich. Ct. App. 1997) (Doe brings contract claim against state lottery alleging he had winning ticket).
      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        MICH. COMP. LAWS ANN. § 2.113 (2004)

        (D)(1) “In a complaint, the title of the action must include the names of all the parties, with the plaintiff's name placed first.”

        Michigan published opinions back to 1/2001 and unpublished opinions back to July 1996 are searchable at http://coa.courts.mi.gov/resources/opinions.htm (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

      3. Relevant Statutes

        None noted.

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    9. Minnesota

      1. Caselaw

        Minnesota caselaw does not treat the issue of filing pseudonymously directly, but cases tacitly allow pseudonym in relation to claims of confidential records.

        • Doe v. Anoka County Bd. of Com'rs, No. C8-92-544, 1992 WL 238373 (Minn. Ct. App. 1992) – Doe challenges the unsealing of a “pardon extraordinary” of his felony conviction, but there is no discussion of the use of a pseudonym.

        • Doe v. Minnesota State Bd. of Medical Examiners, 435 N.W.2d 45 (Minn. 1989) – Dr. Doe sued to prevent Board from disclosing complaints against him which were dismissed in the Board’s final ruling, which is to be a public record. No discussion of pseudonym.

        • Resident v. Noot, 305 N.W.2d 311 (Minn. 1981) – Pseudonymous elder care facility resident sues to keep medical assistance funding. Court merely mentions pseudonym.

        Most other reported cases with Doe plaintiffs include underlying claims relating to sexual assault or harassment. Furthermore, several are founded on events stemming from when plaintiffs were minors. The facts are somewhat extreme, and would be hard for a privacy-based plaintiff who did not suffer additional harms to analogize to.

        • Doe v. Archidocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, No. C5-03-11896, 2005 WL 517772 (Minn. Dist. Ct. 2005) – Doe is Defendant’s employee, married, who has inappropriate relationship with a priest but does not actually have sex with him, and brings claims of battery and harassment, inter alia. No discussion of pseudonym.

        • Doe v. Brainerd Intern. Raceway, Inc., 533 N.W.2d 617 (Minn. 1995) – Doe is teenage girl who sneaks into race day celebrations and participates in wet t-shirt contest which devolves into nudity and sex acts in front of crowd while she is drunk and high. Negligence claims; no discussion of pseudonym.

        • Quenroe v. Order of St. Benedict of Roman Catholic Church, No. A03-1212, 2004 WL 1381195 (Minn. Ct. App. 2004) – Doe plaintiff claims sexual abuse by priest ten years previously when a minor. No discussion of pseudonym.

      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        MINN. R. CIV. P. 10.01 (2010): Caption – Names of Parties

        “ . . . In the complaint, the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties, but in other pleadings it is sufficient to state the first party on each side with an appropriate indication of other parties.”

        Recent Supreme Court opinions are available at http://www.mncourts.gov/default.aspx?page=230, while all archived Supreme Court and appellate opinions are searchable at http://www.lawlibrary.state.mn.us/archive/ (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

      3. Relevant Statutes

        • MINN. STAT. § 145.4247 provides for pseudonymity of a woman proceeding in court for violations of the Woman’s Right to Know Act (relating to abortions).

        • MINN. R. JUV. PROT. P. 8.04 (2010) states what records are not available to the public, including those from juvenile court proceedings, relating to HIV, etc.

        • MINN. R. PUB. ACCESS REC'DS JUD. BR. 8 (2010) provides for public access to records.

        • MINN. R. CIV. APP. P. 112.01 (2010) relates to sealing the record.

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    10. Mississippi

      1. Caselaw

        Noted caselaw from Mississippi with Doe plaintiffs is limited to sexual abuse claims brought by minors. There is no discussion by courts of the use of a Doe pseudonym.

        • Doe ex rel. Doe v. Salvation Army, 835 So.2d 76 (Miss. 2003) – Doe plaintiffs and their mothers sue after Does are sexually assaulted at summer camp by counselor. Punitive damages are at issue here. No mention of pseudonym.
      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        MINN. R. CIV. PRO. 10 (2010): Form of Pleadings

        (a) Caption; names of parties. Every pleading shall contain a caption setting forth the name of the court, the title of the action, the file number, and a designation as in Rule 7(a). In the complaint the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties, but in other pleadings it is sufficient to state the name of the first party on each side with an appropriate indication of other parties.

        Decisions are searchable at http://www.mssc.state.ms.us/search/searchoptions_decisions.html (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

      3. Relevant Statutes

        Youth court records are kept confidential under MISS. CODE ANN. § 43-21-251(2) (2010).

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    11. Missouri

      1. Caselaw

        Missouri courts of appeal considered a motion to proceed pseudonymously in one case but held that it lacked jurisdiction. It noted some of the parties’ argument resulting in denial of pseudonymity at the trial court. The reason, emotional harm, provides an example of what is insufficient in Missouri to proceed pseudonymously, and provides an example of a lower threshold for analogy.

        • Doe v. Visionaire Corp., 13 S.W.3d 674 (Mo. Ct. App. 2000) – Doe plaintiffs, husband and wife, filed a petition to proceed pseudonymously, arguing that “further emotional pain, embarrassment and humiliation” would result if they pursued their subsequently filed action for invasion of privacy, negligent infliction of emotional distress and wrongful discharge, with true names. Id. at 675. The trial court initially granted the petition and Does filed the action. Defendant moved to set aside the ex parte order, arguing that fear of embarrassment is insufficient to overcome the presumption of open courts. The trial court agreed. On appeal, the instant court found it lacked jurisdiction, noting that under Missouri procedural rules, a denial of petition to proceed pseudonymously resulting in a dismissal without prejudice is not appealable. Id. at 676. The court did not discuss the proper balancing test for pseudonymity.

        In two cases appellate judges make a nod to the trial court grants to proceed pseudonymously, but they have underlying claims relating to the sexual abuse of minors and therefore do not provide extremely helpful analogies for adult privacy plaintiffs.

        • Complaint at ¶ 1, 2002 WL 33007500, Doe v. O'Connell, 146 S.W.3d 1 (Mo. Ct. App. 2004) (No. 02CC-001538)– Plaintiff notes true identity of Doe provided in separate cover. Doe was minor at time of sexual abuse by priest and Bishop.

        • Doe v. Hamilton, 202 S.W.3d 621 (Mo. Ct. App. 2006) – Court notes that Doe’s motion to proceed pseudonymously was granted. Id. at 622. Doe was sexually abused as a minor.

        Without note, Missouri courts of appeal have allowed convicted sex offenders to challenge sex offender registry laws using Doe pseudonyms. See Doe v. Worsham, 290 S.W.3d 809 (Mo. Ct. App. 2009); Doe v. Merritt, 261 S.W.3d 672 (Mo. Ct. App. 2008).

        In addition, a class action challenging the administration of state low-income health benefits is brought by a “named” Doe plaintiff. See Doe v. Missouri Dept. of Social Services, 280 S.W.3d 110 (Mo. Ct. App. 2009).

      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        MO. SUP. CT. R. 55.02 (2010) provides, in part, "In the petition, the title of the civil action shall include the names of all the parties."

        Supreme Court and appellate opinions dating back to 1997 are searchable at http://www.courts.mo.gov/page.jsp?id=12086&dist=Opinions (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

      3. Relevant Statutes

        • MO. REV. STAT. § 191.657 (2010) provides for general confidentiality of HIV related records.

        • MO. REV. STAT. § 211.321 (2010) provides for confidentiality of juvenile court records.

        • MO. REV. STAT. § 630.140(5) (2010) provides for confidentiality of mental health records in court records.

        • Mo. S. Ct. Op. Rule 4.24 (2010) provides for confidentiality of many types of records and allows for sealing other records for “good cause shown.”

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    12. Montana

      1. Caselaw

        One reported Montana case has a Doe plaintiff bringing invasion of privacy claim, but does not discuss the pseudonym. Obviously it is possible to bring privacy actions with a pseudonym in Montana, but there is little breadth in the caselaw to which to analogize.

        • Doe v. State through Dept. of Revenue, 846 P.2d 1018 (Mont. 1993) – Does are married couple suing the state due to the discovery, during a lawful search of their home, of an envelope of photos of the couple having sex and one photo that possibly depicted child pornography, and the resulting investigation into the couple for child abuse. They claim invasion of privacy. The court affirms the dismissal for failure to state a claim and does not discuss the pseudonym.

        • Doe v. Community Medical Center, Inc., 221 P.3d 651 (Mont. 2009) – Doe is a physician terminated by employer for unethically using employer’s resources to treat his sick family. Court notes Doe is allowed to challenge the professional medical peer review proceeding pseudonymously.

      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        MONT. CODE ANNO. §§ 25-4-101 to 104 describe the designation of parties in civil actions, but do not state the need to file under the true name of a plaintiff.

        MONT. CODE ANNO. Ch. 20, Rule 17(a): Real Party in Interest (2009) is the state’s equivalent to Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 17.

        Montana Supreme Court cases are searchable at http://fnweb1.isd.doa.state.mt.us/idmws/custom/sll/sll_fn_home.htm (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

      3. Relevant Statutes

        • MONT. CODE ANNO., § 41-5-216 (2009) provides in part for sealing youth court records.

        • MONT. CODE ANNO. § 50-20-308 (2009): Woman’s Right to know: Protection of privacy in court proceedings.

          [Allows for anonymity of a woman suing under this law in courts, unless waived.]

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    13. Nebraska

      1. Caselaw

        Reported caselaw from Nebrasksa with Doe plaintiffs is very thin, and contains no discussion of a rule for proceeding pseudonymously. Analogy could be made to the underlying claims and harm to Doe if identity revealed.

        • Doe v. Golnick, 251 Neb. 184, 556 N.W.2d 20 (Neb. 1996) – Jane Doe is a patient of Defendant; they have a sexual relationship and Doe sues for medical malpractice, inter alia. No discussion of pseudonym.
      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        NEB. CT. R. § 6-1110. Form of pleadings.

        (a) Caption: Names of Parties. Every pleading shall contain a caption setting forth the name of the court, the title of the action, the file number, and a designation as in § 6-1107(a). In the complaint the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties

        Supreme Court and courts of appeal cases from 2010 are available at http://www.supremecourt.ne.gov/opinions/index.shtml (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

      3. Relevant Statutes

        • NEB. REV. STAT. § 43-2,108 (2010) provides for confidentiality of certain juvenile records in court.

        • NEB. CT. R. § 6-1521 (2009) provides for protection of PII appearing in court records.

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    14. Nevada

      1. Caselaw

        None noted.

      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        NEV. R. CIV. PRO. 10 (2009): Form of pleadings

        (a) Caption; names of parties. Every pleading shall contain a caption setting forth the name of the court and county, the title of the action, the file number, and a designation as in Rule 7(a). In the complaint the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties . . . .

        Advance opinions from the Supreme Court are available for free at http://www.nevadajudiciary.us/index.php/advancedopinions (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

      3. Relevant Statutes

        • NEV. REV. STAT. ANN. § 200.3772 (2009) provides for the substitution of a pseudonym for the name of victims of sexual assault.
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    15. New Hampshire

      1. Caselaw

        New Hampshire reported cases with Doe plaintiffs are almost exclusively limited to family law or child abuse or sexual abuse of minors, and include no discussion of pseudonymity. An adult plaintiff will have great difficulty successfully arguing that harm to them caused by suing under their true name is as great as those to abused minors. Family law, similarly, is quite distinguishable. See, e.g., Niedzielski v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 589 A.2d 130 (N.H. 1991) (Doe is minor patient of defendant dentist who is sexually abused at appointment).

      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        New Hampshire civil procedure rules do not exactly track the federal rules.

        N.H. SUPER. CT. R. 2-A (2010) provides:

        Writs will not be accepted for entry unless the mail address and actual street address of each party plaintiff appear thereon (except domestic violence petitions, in accordance with RSA 173-B:3), and no appearance card shall be filed unless it contains the mail address and actual street address of each party defendant included in said appearance card. For good cause shown, any writ or appearance card rejected for non-compliance with this rule may, upon motion and compliance, be admitted for filing.

        Supreme Court opinions are available at http://www.courts.state.nh.us/supreme/opinions/index.htm (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

      3. Relevant Statutes

        • N.H. REV. STAT. ANN. § 169-B:35 (2010) provides for confidential court records for juvenile cases.

        • N.H. REV. STAT. ANN. § 169-D:25 (2010) provides for confidential court records where “children are in need of services.” Similarly, under N.H. REV. STAT. ANN. § 169-C:25 (2010), court records under the Child Protection Act are to be confidential.

        • N.H. SUP. CT. R. 12 (2010) provides the procedure for seeking confidentiality of Supreme Court records; note however, that confidentiality is akin to sealing records, and does not include pseudonymity.

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    16. New Jersey

      1. Caselaw

        Several cases from New Jersey provide examples of what courts consider sufficient under a court-made “compelling interest” balancing test (citing, but not following Stegall), and what is considered insufficient, for a plaintiff to proceed under a pseudonym:

        • A.B.C. v. XYZ Corp., 660 A.2d 1199 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 1995) – The court formulated a rule for considering pseudonymous plaintiffs, but held that the instant plaintiff could not proceed pseudonymously. A.B.C. claimed he suffered from the “disease” of exhibitionism, and that his termination after he exposed himself at work was employment discrimination. The trial court denial of Plaintiff’s motion to proceed pseudonymously. On appeal, the instant court weighed custom, constitutional law, and the state civil procedure rules requiring all parties names to appear on complaints as evidence of a presumption of open courts. The court looked to federal caselaw to distinguish A.B.C. from plaintiffs who brought privacy actions, or were victims. It formulated a rule that “once compelling circumstances have been shown, the litigant's privacy interest must be weighed against the constitutional and public interest in open judicial proceedings.” Id. at 1204. Compelling circumstances could not include emotional distress, but did encompass physical harm or revelation of highly private and personal information. Because the trial judge did not abuse his discretion, and plaintiff failed to put forward compelling interests, the instant court affirmed.

        • T.S.R. v. J.C., 671 A.2d 1068 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 1996) – Pseudonymous Defendant, minister appeals denial of pseudonymity by trial court for defense against claims of his sexual molestation of minors. Citing to A.B.C., the court notes that the presumption of openness of trials can be overcome, but holds that the stigma J.C. would suffer is not sufficient, especially in light of the fact that the defendant church widely circulated the allegations among its members, and that the trial judge did not abuse his discretion in denying pseudonymity.

        • Doe v. Tris Comprehensive Mental Health, Inc., 690 A.2d 160 (N.J. Super. Ct. Law Div. 1996) – Doe, a doctor and psychotherapist, sues for employment discrimination alleging that the revelation that he was gay and HIV positive status lead to firing. In applying to proceed under a pseudonym, Doe argued that the revelation of his HIV positive condition would be stigmatizing, and adversely affect his livelihood as current and prospective clients would be discouraged from seeking his services. Not even all of Doe’s family knew. The court pointed to the custom and the Constitution in noting that there is a presumption of open trials, which is embodied in the court rule requiring names for all parties. Pointing to caselaw that minors were allowed to proceed pseudonymously, the court applied the balancing test from A.B.C. v. XYZ Corp., that there must be compelling circumstances for pseudonymity. It distinguished A.B.C. and T.S.R., and looked to federal cases for persuasive opinions allowing pseudonyms. The court held that revealing Doe’s HIV status in conjunction with harm to his professional reputation and practice was sufficient to overcome the presumption against open trials.

        One very recent case interestingly allows the case to continue under pseudonyms and initials even though, according to the court, the need for pseudonymity had “evaporated.” It also evinced a preference for the Doe pseudonyms rather than initials:

        • O.R. ex rel. O.R. v. Kniewel, Nos. L-2293-07, L-2380-07, L-2686-06, L-2316-06, 2010 WL 1191088 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2010) – Does and minors identified by intials allege discrimination by schools. The court noted, however, that “[a]s of this writing, John has reached the age of majority. Arguably, the need for confidentiality of the parties' actual identities has evaporated. Nevertheless, we elect to continue the convention of abbreviations and pseudonyms for the parties. We do, however, choose to avoid the use of initials and accordingly, alter the true names of the parties.” Id. at *1, n.2.

        Cases where victims are allowed to proceed pseudonymously in civil suits, with no discussion from the court, include:

        • Doe v. XYC Corp., 887 A.2d 1156 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2005) (Doe sues relating to nude postings of her minor daughter on child porn websites); Doe by Doe v. Uhler, 532 A.2d 1133 (N.J. Super. Ct. Law Div. 1987) (Doe sexually assaulted as minor); Doe v. Saint Michael's Medical Center of Newark, 445 A.2d 40 (N.J. Super. 1982) (Doe assaulted and robbed); Doe v. New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services, 429 A.2d 596 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 1981) (Doe is minor sexually assaulted in foster home).

        Other cases allow a pseudonym where Plaintiff faces physical harm if name is revealed in record:

        • Doe v. Dover Tp., 524 A.2d 469 (N.J. Super. A.D. 1987); Application of "X'', 284 A.2d 530 (N.J. 1971) (Doe and Mr. X are jewelers who carry jewels and cash between home and places of business whose handgun permits are denied and affirmed on appeal).

        Other cases with no discussion of the Doe plaintiffs include complaints of HIV infection (Doe v. Greater New York Blood Program, 700 A.2d 377 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 1997); Doe v. Arts 823 A.2d 855 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2003)), challenges to sex offender registration (Doe v. Poritz, 662 A.2d 367 (N.J. 1995)), and anti-abortion laws (Doe v. Bridgeton Hospital Ass'n, Inc., 366 A.2d 641 (N.J. 1976)), and family law (Doe v. State, Dept. of Human Services, Division of Youth and Family Services, 398 A.2d 562 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 1979)).

      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        N.J. COURT RULES, R. 1:4-1 (2010): Caption:

        “In a complaint in a civil action, the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties . . . .”

        N.J. COURT RULES, R. 1:2-1 (2010): Proceeding in Open Court:

        All trials . . . and appeals shall be conducted in open court unless otherwise provided by rule or statute. If a proceeding is required to be conducted in open court, no record of any portion thereof shall be sealed by order of the court except for good cause shown . . . .

        Supreme Court and courts of appeal published opinions available at http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/opinions/index.htm, and unpublished available at http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/opinions/unappopin/unappopindex.htm, while trial court published and unpublished are available for two weeks at http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/trial_court_opinions/index.htm and http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/decisions/index.htm (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

      3. Relevant Statutes

        • N.J. COURT RULES, R. 1:38-3 (2010) describes certain classes of court records that are excluded from public access, including victim statements, records relation to child abuse, victims of domestic violence, juvenile court records, pertaining to AIDS or HIV, and others.

        • N.J. COURT RULES, R. 1:38-7 (2010) generally prohibits submission of PII such as social security numbers and the like in filings with the courts.

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    17. New Mexico

      1. Caselaw

        Cases from New Mexico courts do not discuss why certain plaintiffs are allowed to proceed pseudonymously. Examples of cases where plaintiffs sue as Doe include:

        • Protection and Advocacy System v. City of Albuquerque, 195 P.3d 1 (N.M. Ct. App. 2008) – Does are diagnosed with mental illnesses and challenge an ordinance relating to “outpatient” treatment.

        • Does I through III v. Roman Catholic Church of Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Inc., 924 P.2d 273 (N.M. Ct. App. 1996) – Does sue for sexual abuse.

      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        N.M. DIST. CT. R. CIV. PRO. 1-008.1 (2010): Pleadings and papers; captions

        Pleadings and papers filed in the district courts shall have a caption or heading which shall briefly include: . . .

        B. the names of the parties; and

        C. a title which describes the cause of action or relief requested. The title of a pleading or paper shall have no legal effect in the action.

        Opinions are available at http://www.nmcompcomm.us/nmcases/NMCases.aspx (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

      3. Relevant Statutes

        • N.M. STAT. ANN. § 14-2-1 (2009) states a general right of the public to inspect records, with exceptions covering PII.

        • N.M. DIST. CT. R. CIV. PRO. § 1-079 (2010) states a presumption of access to court records, but also provides exceptions under other acts, such as those for adult protective services, the mental health code, and to protection PII. It also provides for the procedure for sealing and unsealing court records.

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    18. New York – Caselaw

      1. Introduction

        There may be certain situations in which a WMC plaintiff will seek to protect his or her privacy through pseudonym litigation. New York courts generally allow a party to proceed anonymously if specific criteria are met.

        For instance in Anonymous v. Anonymous, the plaintiff sought permission to proceed anonymously. The Defendent did not oppose the plaintiff's motion and also sought to proceed anonymously.

        1. Anonymous v. Anonymous, 744 N.Y.S.2d 659 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2002)

          Plaintiff was brutally assaulted in the bathroom of a cafeteria owned by the defendant. The cafeteria was open to the general public, but individuals had to present identification to a security guard and pass through a turnstile to enter. The assailant was indicted, arrested, and imprisoned. Plaintiff sued the defendant in its capacity as the owner and controller of the cafeteria property.

          The court allowed both parties to proceed anonymously. The court noted that granting anonymity did not mean sealing records, and cited to cases from other jurisdictions in which courts applied balancing tests to weigh the parties’ rights to privacy against the demands of the public interest. The court noted that there was no indication that the defendant was negligent with respect to security of its premises and publicity could only lead to a “trial by newspaper.”1

          Interestingly, the court referenced several decisions in which courts allowed plaintiffs to proceed anonymously and noted that “[f]ederal courts have also generally allowed plaintiffs to proceed anonymously in cases such as abortion, mental illness, homosexuality, and religion.”2

        2. In, "J. Doe No. 1" v. CBS Broad, Inc., 806 N.Y.S.2d 38 (N.Y. App. Div. 2005):

          The Plaintiffs sought to proceed anonymously on their action for trespass to chattels based on random digit dialing and/or sequential dialing to unlisted/unpublished telephone numbers. Plaintiffs sought relief for trespass to chattels based on random digit dialing and/or sequential dialing to unlisted and unpublished telephone numbers. Plaintiffs alleged no harm to the condition, quality or material value of the phones at issue, thereby failing to plead an essential element of their cause of action.3

          The court dismissed plaintiffs’ claim because they failed to allege harm to the condition, quality, and/or value of their phones. The court also dismissed as a plaintiff J. Doe 2 who was not a subscriber and therefore, lacked standing to assert the claim as pleaded.

        3. In Doe v. New York Univ., 786 N.Y.S.2d 892 (N.Y. Gen. Term 2004)

          The plaintiffs sought damages arising from sexual assaults at the university, and the plaintiffs sought to replace their names with pseudonyms because of the nature of their injuries, the emotional distress they had allegedly suffered, and the need for psychotherapy treatment, as well as the right to privacy. The newspaper organization, operated by students at NYU, sought to intervene to oppose plaintiffs’ motion to seal court records and prevent publication of their names asserting that the names, etc. should be made public.

          The court held that plaintiffs should be permitted to file an amended complaint to replace their names with pseudonyms, and plaintiffs’ application for an order sealing records was denied. Although the plaintiffs did not demonstrate good cause to seal the entire record, they did demonstrate good cause to proceed anonymously, which “is not the equivalent of sealing records and does not prevent the public from accessing records.”4 There, “the ultimate inquiry must be whether ‘the plaintiff has a substantial privacy right which outweighs the ‘customary and constitutionally-embedded presumption of openness in judicial proceedings,’” e.g. where a substantial privacy interest is involved. Because the plaintiffs were victims of sexual assault, suffered emotional distress, underwent psychotherapy, etc., the use of pseudonyms would “avoid any sensational publicity associated with the widely recognized university, NYU.”5

          Moreover, the right of access of the newspaper organization under the First Amendment was not absolute, and redaction has been held to be a viable option in many circumstances. The court also granted plaintiffs’ action for an order permanently enjoining NYU or any news affiliates from publishing names, or in any other way making the identities of the plaintiffs to this action known to the extent that NYU is permanently enjoined.6 The court denied the motion to the extent that plaintiffs asked for an order granting a permanent injunction to protect plaintiffs’ identities retroactively and in perpetuity.

          The following case explains New York and federal law on pseudonym litigation, noting that “[a]mong the factors considered in permitting the use of a pseudonym are: ‘whether the justification asserted by the requesting party is merely to avoid the annoyance and criticism that may attend any litigation or is to preserve privacy in a matter of sensitive and highly personal nature’; whether the party seeking anonymity has an illegitimate ulterior motive; the extent to which the identity of the litigant has been kept confidential; whether identification poses a risk of mental or physical harm, harassment, ridicule or personal embarrassment; whether the case involves information of the utmost intimacy; whether the action is against a governmental entity; the magnitude of the public interest in maintaining confidentiality or knowing the party’s identity; whether revealing the identity of the party will dissuade the party from bringing the lawsuit; whether the opposition to anonymity has an illegitimate basis; and whether the other side will be prejudiced by the use of the pseudonym. A particularly relevant factor is whether ‘the injury litigated against would occur as a result of the disclosure of the plaintiff’s identity.”7 Additionally, “Fed. R. Civ. P. 10(a) requires that a complaint state the names of the parties. However, in exceptional cases, the Federal courts depart from this rule to protect the privacy interests of a party. Indeed, the Supreme Court has permitted pseudonymity in several cases.”8

        4. In Szul Jewelry, Inc. v. Q2 Entm’t & Mitchell Goldman, No. 0604277/2007, 2008 WL 2157893 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. May 8, 2008)

          The plaintiff used a pseudonym in her complaint requesting a declaration that defendants violated her right to privacy under the New York civil rights statute by displaying sexually explicit videotape featuring plaintiff on the internet and a permanent injunction blocking the dissemination of videotape. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint based on documentary evidence—the video’s script, the cancelled check for $200, and numerous emails exchanged between plaintiff and individual defendant Goldman—and moved alternatively for the dismissal of Mitchell Goldman. Defendants also argued that if the case were permitted to proceed, its caption should be amended to reflect plaintiff’s real name in part because the use of a pseudonym undermines the presumption of openness inherent in judicial proceedings.

          The plaintiff, a 37-year-old woman who worked as a model, on-air host for a cable network program, actor and an elementary teacher, answered an advertisement on an actors’ website, placed by defendant Q2 Entertainment, a company headed by defendant Goldman. The advertisement sought an actress for a “viral web spot commercial” for Szul Jewelry, Inc. and its subsidiary Szul.com. Defendant hired plaintiff and paid her $200 for her work, but never asked her to sign a Model’s Release or authorize the use of her likeness for advertising/trade. The advertisement was released on “You-Tube” entitled “Rock Her World.” Plaintiff alleged that it was heavily edited down to a 35-second non-comedic video featuring plaintiff alone, stimulating an orgasm. Plaintiff asked that the video be taken off You-Tube, and she refused to sign a release. Defendants cancelled Plaintiff’s paycheck, but refused to remove the video for approximately eighteen days. During that time period, the video received more than 699,000 user hits. Defendant presented into evidence emails between plaintiff and Goldman in which plaintiff noted that she was scared of the video’s possible effects on her career. Plaintiff contended that because of the video, hundreds of demeaning and insulting comments were posted about her, and she had suffered a loss of reputation, lost earnings, and emotional distress, as well as threats of blacklisting by contacts in the entertainment industry. Also, she contended that the jewelry company received a lot of publicity and benefited greatly from her services. She sued defendants, asking for a declaration that their actions had violated the NY privacy statutes, a permanent injunction, and compensatory and punitive damages.

          The court denied the motion to dismiss on defendants’ documentary evidence and determined that plaintiff could remain anonymous. In regards to the denial of the motion to dismiss, the court found that the dispute centered on whether the use of the video was based on plaintiff’s written consent, and defendants’ evidence did not refute her allegations that any consent she may have given was for use of the video in a different manner, in a different venue, and for a different purpose. The court dismissed Goldman as a defendant in his personal capacity however. In finding that plaintiff could proceed anonymously, the court determined that it was a matter of court discretion. Because the case involved a sexually explicit tape, and would center on information about plaintiff of a “sensitive and highly personal nature,” “[t]he only purpose revelation of plaintiff’s name could have would be to further discomfit plaintiff and perhaps deter her from litigating the matter. In fact, revelation of plaintiff’s identity would undermine the litigation by denying a portion of the relief ultimately requested in the action. The public has an interest in seeing this case determined on the merits, after the parties have had an opportunity to fully and properly litigate the issues.”9 The court also recognized that “a grant of anonymity impacts far less on the public’s right to open proceedings than does the closing of a courtroom or the sealing of records—relief requested by defendants.”10

      1. Anonymous v. Anonymous, 744 N.Y.S.2d 659 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2002). 

      2. Id. 

      3. J. Doe No. 1” v. CBS Broad. Inc., 806 N.Y.S.2d 38 (N.Y. App. Div. 2005). 

      4. Doe v. New York Univ., 786 N.Y.S.2d 892 (N.Y. Gen. Term 2004). 

      5. Id. at 904. 

      6. Id. 

      7. Doe v. Szul Jewelry, Inc., No. 0604277/2007, 2008 WL 2157893, at *6 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. May 8, 2008)(noting that “[t]he court finds that plaintiff’s privacy interest justifies her use of a pseudonym.”). 

      8. Id. at 6 n.4 (citations omitted). 

      9. Id. 

      10. Id. 

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    19. North Carolina

      1. Caselaw

        Caselaw from North Carolina does not discuss a rule or even reasons for granting the use of pseudonyms, although several reported cases have Doe plaintiffs.

        • ACT-UP Triangle (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power Triangle) v. Comm’n for Health, 472 S.E.2d 605 (N.C. Ct. App. 1996) – Doe plaintiffs seek anonymous HIV testing which is being discontinued by state agency. There is no discussion of pseudonyms.

        • Doe v. Duke University, 455 S.E.2d 470 (N.C. Ct. App. 1995) – Doe’s breast implant surgery results in infection requiring removal of implants. She sues, and instant matter relates to custody of the removed implants during the dispute. No discussion of pseudonym.

        • Doe v. Jenkins, 547 S.E.2d 124 (N.C. Ct. App. 2001) – Doe is assaulted and raped in courthouse, and seeks damages from her injuries. No discussion of pseudonym.

        • Roe v. The Childrens School, 576 S.E.2d 142 (N.C. App. 2003) – Doe and Roe are minors sexually abused by employees of Defendant. No discussion of pseudonyms.

      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        N.C. GEN. STAT. § 3-10(a): Form of pleadings

        “ . . . In the complaint the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties . . . .”

        Opinions from appellate courts are available and searchable at http://www.aoc.state.nc.us/www/public/html/opinions.htm, from 1997/96 and forward (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

      3. Relevant Statutes

        • N.C. GEN. STAT. § 7B-2901 (2010) provides for confidentiality of juvenile court records.

        • N.C. GEN. STAT. § 122C-207 (2010) provides for confidentiality of court proceedings under the Mental Health, Development Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Act of 1985.

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    20. North Dakota

      1. Caselaw

        North Dakota courts have not stated a rule for assessing proceeding under a pseudonym, and cases in which Doe plaintiffs are tacitly allowed are sparse, offering little for analogies.

        • Fargo Women's Health Organization, Inc. v. Larson, 381 N.W.2d 176 (N.D. 1986) – Doe plaintiff is one of several plaintiffs suing an anti-abortion counseling center for false advertising about their abortion/pregnancy counseling services. No discussion of Doe’s identity or use of pseudonym.

        • Roe v. Rothe-Seeger, 608 N.W.2d 289 (N.D. 2000) – Dr. Roe petitions for vacatur of grant of insurance company to intervene in Jane Doe’s medical malpractice claim against him, involving sexual relationship between Roe and Doe. The Court does not discuss the pseudonyms.

      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        N.D.R. CIV. P. R. 10 (2010): Caption – Name of parties

        “ . . . In the complaint the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties . . . .”

        Supreme Court opinions are searchable at http://www.court.state.nd.us/Search/Opinions.asp (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

      3. Relevant Statutes

        • N.D.R. CT. RULE 3.4 (2010) provides for protection of PII in court records.

        • N.D. SUP. CT. ADMIN. RULE 41 (2010) sets out a right of public access to court records generally, with exceptions for narrow categories of materials appearing in the record.

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    21. Ohio

      1. Caselaw

        The Ohio Court of Appeals accepts Doe plaintiffs, but no reported cases outline the procedure or test used to determine whether a plaintiff may proceed pseudonymously. The underlying facts of the Lodi Hospital appeal give some indication of the type of fact pattern for which trial courts may grant permission to proceed pseudonymously, and suggests that some defamation or other privacy-based tort plaintiffs may be able to successfully move for use of pseudonym

        • Doe v. Lodi Hospital, No. 2955-M, 2000 WL 1825095 (Ohio Ct. App. 2000) – The court footnotes the fact that the trial court granted the plaintiff permission to maintain the cause of action under a John Doe pseudonym. Doe was a physician and employee of the defendants, a hospital and a regional physician independent contracting company, who claimed defamation, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, wrongful discharge, and intentional interference with contract stemming from a theft at the hospital. Doe’s picture was indicated by one hospital employee as potentially matching a security film of the thief using the stolen credit card at an ATM. The police then questioned more hospital employees familiar with Doe to verify if he was the individual in the security film; however, one such individual was the director of the independent contracting services. Shortly thereafter, Doe was terminated from employment by the hospital and the independent contracting company.

        Ohio has many other reported cases with Doe plaintiffs, but courts have done little beyond note that the name Doe is a pseudonym.

        • Several cases in which Doe plaintiffs bring claims from infection of stigmatizing diseases: Doe v. Hi-Stat Mfg. Co., Inc., 2001 WL 1782657 (Ohio Ct. App. 2001) (Doe, janitor, infected by Hepatitis C while working); Doe v. University of Cincinnati, 538 N.E.2d 419 (Ohio Ct. App. 1989) (Doe infected with HIV from blood transfusion).

        • Doe plaintiff brings claims for unconsented HIV test in Doe v. Ohio State Univ. Hosp. & Clinics, 663 N.E.2d 1369 (Ohio Ct. App. 1995).

        • Cases involving medical conditions or records also have Doe plaintiffs: Doe v. Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Ohio, 607 N.E.2d 492 (Ohio Ct. App. 1992) (minor Doe admitted to hospital for suicide; claim for insurance payment); Stone v. City of Stow, No. 14691, 1991 WL 11365 (Ohio Ct. App. 1991) (Does take drugs for ADD and contest state registry for drug users); Doe v. Mount Carmel Health Systems, No. 03AP-413, 2004 WL 557333 (Ohio Ct. App. 2004) (Doe sues when his visit to hospital from work injury results in doctor revealing he is cross-dresser and not a woman to his employer); Doe v. University Hospitals of Cleveland, No. 61391, 1992 WL 333157 (Ohio Ct. App. 1992) (Doe’s claims arise from his sexual re-assignment surgery).

        • Cases involving sexual abuse of minors. See, e.g., Doe v. Massillon City School Dist., No. 2006CA00227, 2007 WL 1651438 (Ohio Ct. App. 2007) (Doe children molested by chess tutor brought to school); Doe v. Archdiocese of Cincinnati, 849 N.E.2d 268 (Ohio 2006) (Doe sues for sexual abuse by priest dating from when he was a child). But see also Doe v. Blaney, No. C-950093, 1995 WL 763623 (Ohio Ct. App. 1995) (John Doe is minor sexually abused by landlord’s son; all names are revealed in the opinion). And sexual assault of adults. See, e.g., Doe v. Cub Foods of Ohio, Inc., No. 94APE07-1005, 1995 WL 318776 (Ohio Ct. App. 1995) (Doe assaulted in parking lot; assailant steals wallet and learns address and rapes her at home weeks later; Doe then self-mutilates due to post-traumatic disorder).

        • Family law. See, e.g., Doe v. State Board of Health, Not Reported in N.E.2d, 1985 WL 6712 (Ohio Ct. App. 1985) (Doe is a married woman but she and husband want paternity of her newborn recorded as Roe, another man).

      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        OHIO CIV. R. 10 (2010): Form of Pleadings

        “ . . .In the complaint the title of the action shall include the names and addresses of all the parties . . . .”

        Ohio opinions are searchable back to 1992 at http://www.court.state.nd.us/Search/Opinions.asp (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

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    22. Oklahoma

      1. Caselaw

        Oklahoma caselaw does not apply, or even discuss in any way, the use of Doe pseudonyms. However, it is possible to sue as Doe as seen in the following, but note that sexual abuse of minors is generally accorded extra statutory privacy protection:

        • Doe v. Independent Schl. Dist. No. I-89, 780 P.2d 659 (Okla. 1988) – Doe sues on behalf of her special education daughter who was sexually assaulted by school bus driver.
      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        OKLA. STAT. 12 § 2010 (2009): Form of Pleadings

        A. Caption; Names of Parties . . . . In the petition the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties . . . .”

        Each of the judicial districts also have local rules relating to the names of parties in the pleadings. For example: Okla. 7 & 26 Jud. Dist. Ct. R. 10 (2009): Pleading and service – All cases:

        (F). In all cases, excluding those filed in the Juvenile Division, unless the parties shall be properly named or identified, the Court shall not conduct any hearing, approve any order, or grant any relief. In those cases where the petition has been filed without the parties being properly named or identified, an amended petition shall be filed clarifying the caption of the case.

        Opinions are available online for 90 days at http://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/start.asp?viewType=NEWDECISIONS (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

      3. Relevant Statutes

        • OKLA. STAT. 10A § 1-6-102 (2009) states confidential children’s records. See also 10A Okl. St. § 2-6-102 (2009).
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    23. Oregon

      1. Caselaw

        Oregon courts have not directly addressed a test or reasons for Doe pseudonyms. The facts of reported cases with Doe plaintiffs may be helpful in drawing analogies to the privacy interests that support pseudonymity.

        • Doe v. American Red Cross, 910 P.2d 364 (Or. 1996) – Doe’s estate sues for the negligence in the transmission of HIV to Doe during a blood transfusion, the lack of testing and warning of risks of transfusions. Doe died of AIDS. No mention of pseudonym.

        • Doe v. Medford School Dist., 221 P.3d 787(Or. Ct. App. 2009) – Teacher, Doe, challenged school board ordinance that forbade guns in schools, as the licensed teacher wanted to carry handgun to class and while teaching. No mention of pseudonym.

        • Doe v. Portland Health Centers, Inc., 782 P.2d 446 (Or. Ct. App. 1989) – The minor daughter of Does attempts suicide and hospital workers treating her leak the information to others in the community. Mother Doe is medical professional who seeks reputational damages to her practice. No mention of pseudonym.

        • Doe v. Oregon Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, 111 P.3d 791 (Or. Ct. App. 2005) – Doe, a minor, is touched by her pastor’s minor son in sexual manner and brings negligent supervision claim. No mention of pseudonym.

      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        OR. R. CIV. PRO. 16 (2009): Captions, Names of parties:

        “. . . In the complaint the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties . . . .”

        Court of appeals opinions are available dating back to 1998 at http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/appeals.htm (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

      3. Relevant Statutes

        • OR. REV. STAT. § 192.420 (2009) states a right to inspect public records.
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    24. Pennsylvania

      1. Caselaw

        Reported cases from Pennsylvania demonstrate that privacy plaintiffs can bring actions as Doe, and in case the court does discuss some factors for determining if pseudonymity is appropriate. Analogies could be drawn to the facts in the following cases that implicate a need for privacy in plaintiff’s identity:

        • Doe v. Zarkin, No. 5383 S 1996, 1998 WL 1093460 (Pa. D. & C.4th 1998) – Female Does sue for invasion of privacy and emotional distress stemming from a male co-employee who created a peephole to watch women use the women’s restroom. The court notes: “This case is a sensitive matter and the embarrassing, humiliating circumstances warrant the need for privacy.” Id. at *4. Defendant argued that PA.R.C.P. No. 1024 did not permit a fictitious name; however, the court noted the rule didn’t forbid fictitious names, and the defendant was not prejudiced as he knew the identity of the plaintiffs. Due to a split between two members of the panel in the absence of caselaw on point, the court decided that the records would be sealed but signed by the plaintiff’s true names.

        • Doe v. Johns-Manville Corp., 15 Pa. D. & C.3d 135, 1980 WL 616 (Pa. D. & C.3d 1980) – Doe sues employer for increased risk of asbestosis from his employment. Defendant objected to pseudonym, inter alia, and court sustains, as any adverse consequences to Doe are insufficient. Court notes federal cases with pseudonyms.

        • Doe v. Wyoming Valley Health Care System, Inc., 987 A.2d 758 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2009) – Doe, employee of Defendant, was involved in union activities and brought suit for invasion of privacy after employer's agent disclosed portions of employee's record for job performance at an NLRB hearing. The court merely notes the use of the pseudonym.

        • Doe v. Curran, No. 97-CV-3636, 2000 WL 1283063 (Pa. D. & C.4th 2000) – Doe is patient of Defendant, a doctor, who initiates a sexual relationship and rape of Doe. No discussion of use of pseudonym.

        • Application of Milton S. Hershey Medical Center of Pennsylvania State University, 634 A.2d 159 (Pa. 1993) – Dr. Doe appeals decision of Medical Board to allow limited disclosure of his HIV positive status to his employer, a hospital. No discussion of pseudonym.

      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        PA.R.C.P. 1018:

        It provides in pertinent part that “[t]he caption of a complaint shall set forth . . . the names of all the parties . . . .”

        PA. R.C.P. No. 1024: Verification of Pleading

        “(a) Every pleading containing an averment of fact not appearing of record in the action or containing a denial of fact shall state that the averment or denial is true upon the signer's personal knowledge or information and belief and shall be verified. . . .”

        Opinions are available and searchable from the last ninety days online, at http://www.courts.state.pa.us/T/Commonwealth/CommonwealthOpinions.htm (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

      3. Relevant Statutes

        • 42 PA. CON. STAT. § 6307 (2010) keeps juvenile court records confidential to some degree.

        • 35 PA. STAT. ANN. § 7608 (2010) provides for confidentiality of records relating to HIV infection, and (d) allows for a pseudonym for an infected individual in court records.

      Pennsylvania Pseudonym Law

      1. Introduction

        While no specific statute or procedural rule permits suits to be filed under a pseudonym in Pennsylvania, there is case law supporting the practice in the context of sexual abuse and harassment.1 Accordingly, a plaintiff whose personal privacy has been violated may have a basis for seeking a court’s permission to proceed under a pseudonym.

        Pennsylvania has a statute requiring that the name of a child victim of sexual or physical abuse not be made public in criminal prosecution. See 42 Pa.C.S.A. 5988. A plaintiff seeking to proceed pseudonymously may argue that this statute reflects a public policy in support of victim privacy.

      2. Text of Statute

          (1) § 5988 - Victims of sexual or physical abuse.

            (a) Release of name prohibited.

            [In] Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, in a prosecution involving a child victim of sexual or physical abuse, unless the court otherwise orders, the name of the child victim shall not be disclosed by officers or employees of the court to the public, and any records revealing the name of the child victim will not be open to public inspection.

            (b) Penalty.

            Any person who violates this section commits a misdemeanor of the third degree.

            Similarly, the Pennsylvania Crime Victims Act provides that “all victims of crime are to be treated with dignity, respect, courtesy and sensitivity.” See 18 P.S. § 11.102(1)

            § 11.102. Legislative intent

            The General Assembly finds and declares as follows:

            (1) In recognition of the civic and moral duty of victims of crime to fully and voluntarily cooperate with law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies and in further recognition of the continuing importance of victim cooperation to State and local law enforcement efforts and the general effectiveness and well-being of the criminal justice system of this Commonwealth, all victims of crime are to be treated with dignity, respect, courtesy and sensitivity.

            (2) The rights extended to victims of crime in Chapter 2 are to be honored and protected by law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and judges in a manner no less vigorous than the protections afforded criminal defendants.

      3. Cases

          (1) Doe v. Zarkin, 40 Pa. D & C 4th 100 (Pa. Com. Pl. 1998)

            (a) Procedural Posture: Motion to dismiss complaint based on lack of proper verification

            (b) Law: Victim privacy in pleadings/filing suit under a pseudonym

            (c) Facts: The plaintiffs in the case were female employees who sued their employer, claiming their privacy was invaded when another employee spied on them while they used the bathroom.2 The defendant-employer argued that the complaint should be stricken because the plaintiffs had verified it using fictitious names (Jane Doe and Mary Doe).3 The court observed that fictitious names were used because the case involved “a sensitive matter and the embarrassing, humiliating circumstances warrant the need for privacy.” 4

            (d) Outcome: The court concluded that the complaint would need to be verified using the plaintiffs’ legal names, but would be filed under seal to maintain their privacy.5

            (e) Special Notes: The three-judge panel had three different views on the issue: (1) one judge thought the verification should be signed using the plaintiffs’ legal names and be public; (2) one judge thought it should use legal names but placed under seal; and (3) the third judge felt it was sufficient for the plaintiffs’ attorney to sign the verification on behalf of the plaintiffs under the fictitious names;

          (2) Doe v. Curran, 45 Pa. D & C 4th 544 (Pa. Com. Pl. 2000)

            (a) Procedural Posture: Motion to strike allegation that plaintiff was unaware of defendant psychologist’s practice of initiating sexual relations with his patients.

            (b) Law: Victim privacy in pleadings/filing suit under a pseudonym

            (c) Facts: A psychologist’s patient sued him alleging negligence, gross negligence, medical battery, rape, and intentional inflection of emotional distress based on the psychologist coercing her into inappropriate sexual behavior.6 The defendant moved to strike the plaintiff’s allegation that she was unaware of his habit of instigating sexual contact with patients as well as her request for punitive damages.7

            (d) Outcome: The court denied both requests.8

            (e) Special Notes: While this case did not address the legality or propriety of proceeding under a pseudonym, the Plaintiff filed suit as “Jane Doe,” likely because her claims were premised on sexual abuse.

      4. Practice Pointers

        • An individual wishing to file suit under a pseudonym should consider filing a motion with the court seeking its permission to do so at the time the complaint is filed. The motion should outline the basis for the request, such as sensitive/embarrassing facts, the desire for privacy, etc.
        • Verifications may need to be signed using the individual’s legal name, but can be placed under seal to maintain the plaintiff’s privacy.
      1. In addition to the cases discussed herein, see, e.g., Doe v. Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Case No. 2012 1935, 2013 WL 8338870 (Ct. Com. Pl. Jun. 13, 2013) (in which individuals alleging sexual abuse by priests filed suit under fictitious names); Doe v. Eckerd Corp., Case No 10479 of 2009, 2014 WL 11300399 Ct. Com. Pl. Jun. 12, 2014) (in which guardian of minor children who filed claims based on sexual assault at construction site used pseudonyms for herself and her children). 

      2. Doe v. Zarkin, 40 Pa. D & C 4th 100, 104 (Pa. Com. Pl. 1998). 

      3. Id. at 106. 

      4. Id. 

      5. Id. at 107. 

      6. Doe v. Curran, 45 Pa. D & C 4th 544, 546-47 (Pa. Com. Pl. 2000). 

      7. Id. at 547. 

      8. Id. at 557. 

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    25. Rhode Island

      1. Caselaw

        The Rhode Island Supreme Court considered plaintiffs’ use of a pseudonym in two cases:

        • Doe v. Burkland, 808 A.2d 1090 (R.I. 2002) – Doe sought injunctive relief to halt former domestic partner’s harassment and threats. The trial court granted Plaintiff’s motion to proceed pseudonymously, and the Supreme Court reversed, basing its holding on the fact that Plaintiff used his real name in the complaint and for nine months thereafter, before moving to proceed under a pseudonym, as the Plaintiff waived any right he had to proceed pseudonymously. The Court detailed in a footnote a multi-factor balancing test derived from Joan Steinman, Public Trial, Pseudonymous Parties: When Should Litigations Be Permitted to Keep Their Identities Confidential?, 37 HASTINGS L. REV. 38 (1985), similar to the formulation of balancing tests seen in federal courts. The correct procedure is to file a timely motion at the outset of a case for leave to litigate under a pseudonym. The court noted that, other jurisdictions (referencing United States District Court cases in Rhode Island, California, New York, and Virginia) have allowed plaintiffs to file under pseudonyms when they “otherwise would be forced to disclose publicly their previously undisclosed status as homosexuals in the course of the litigation.” Id. at 1096.

        • Pelland v. State, 919 A.2d 373 (R.I. 2007) – Probationers challenged the state’s new rule limiting their travel during probationary period, and appeal the denial of their motion to proceed under pseudonyms. Plaintiffs argued that pseudonyms were warranted as they “feared unusual scrutiny and adverse consequences owing to their status as sex offenders,” and followed proceed from Doe v. Burkland. Id. at 375. The state Supreme Court affirmed, and established that the correct standard of review for a motion to proceed pseudonymously is abuse of discretion. As there was no caselaw on point, the Court looked to federal cases to determine the standard of review, as well as citing Burkland and Joan Steinman’s law review article to state the correct balancing test for the initial consideration of pseudonyms. Id. at 376-77.

        An earlier, superior court case considered a motion to proceed pseudonymously, and looked to federal cases in the absence of Rhode Island precedent.

        • Doe v. O'Neill, No. C.A. W.C. 86-354, 1987 WL 859818 (R.I. Super. 1987) – Doe was treated for two STDs, but the doctor and his staff then spread this confidential medical information through the community. The court noted that at the time, “[t]here [wa]s no authority under Rhode Island law for the use of fictitious names to protect plaintiff's identity. Similarly, the Rhode Island Rules of Civil Procedure contain no provision for its use.” Id. at *1, n.1. The court then surveyed federal cases where plaintiffs proceeded as Does, noting cases about abortion, welfare, homosexuality, and birth control, and that the discretion to allow pseudonymity was given to the trial court. Here, the court decided that the Plaintiff’s privacy interests in STDs were great and granted the motion.

        A diversity of other types of claims have also supported plaintiff pseudonymity, but without discussion by the court. They may provide helpful facts to which to analogize.

        • Bristol v. R.I. Dept. of Human Services, No. 95-6889, 1997 WL 839884 (R.I. Super. 1997) – One plaintiff in a consolidated case, Jane Doe, appealed a state agency’s denial of Medical Assistance funds for her adult incontinence supplies needed due to a permanent complication from surgery. The court noted that Doe was granted leave to proceed pseudonymously by the trial court. Note, however, that the other plaintiff was named, although the court does not discuss why there is a difference.

        • Doe ex rel. His Parents and Natural Guardians v. East Greenwich School Dept., 899 A.2d 1258 (R.I. 2006) – Doe is public school student who needs a special education program which the school has failed to provide. The court simply notes: “‘John Doe,’ of course, is a pseudonym designed to protect his privacy.” Id. at 1262 n.1.

        • Several cases have claims stemming from sexual abuse of minors, where the court does not address the use of pseudonyms: Doe v. O'Connell, No. PC 86-0077, 1989 WL 1110566 (R.I. Super. 1989) (minor John Doe has sexual relationship with priest); Doe v. McKenna, No. C.A. 94-7084, 1998 WL 269228 (R.I. Super. 1998) (minor Jane Doe sexually molested by teacher).

        Note that Rhode Island’s Supreme Court has held that there can be no liability under the state’s Privacy Act where defendants lawfully obtained information about plaintiffs from court records. See, e.g., Doe v. Edward A. Sherman Pub. Co., 593 A.2d 457 (R.I. 1991).

      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        R.I. R. CIV. PRO. 10 (2009): Form of Pleadings:

        “(a) Caption; Name of Parties . . . In the complaint the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties . . . .”

        Supreme Court opinions are available dating back to 1999, at http://www.courts.ri.gov/supreme/publishedopinions.htm (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

      3. Relevant Statutes

        • R.I. GEN. LAWS § 11-37-8.5 (2010) provides for confidentiality of court records concerning the identity of children molested or sexually assaulted.
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    26. South Carolina

      1. Caselaw

        Courts in South Carolina have only noted the use of pseudonyms in passing; however, the facts of the few reported cases with Doe plaintiffs could be used to draw analogies in terms of the privacy issues facing the plaintiffs with respect to their identities.

        • Doe v. Roe, 475 S.E.2d 783 (S.C. App. 1996) – Doe sues her former lesbian partner of many years for partition of the couple’s property. The court notes: “Because of the sensitive nature of the issues involved in this appeal, we have protected the confidentiality of the parties with assumed names.” Id. at 784 n.1.

        • Doe v. American Red Cross Blood Services, S.C. Region, 377 S.E.2d 323 (S.C. 1989) – Doe is infected with HIV from blood transfusion and sues for negligent failure to screen and exclude high-risk donors as there was no HIV test at the time. No mention of pseudonym.

        Note as well that it is possible for plaintiffs themselves to end the use of pseudonyms simply by beginning to use their true names in formal proceedings:

        • Charleston County Dept. of Social Services v. King, 631 S.E.2d 239 (S.C. 2006) – The court notes that “[a]lthough the Kendles [petitioners] filed their motion to intervene under the pseudonyms John Roe and Mary Roe, they used their real names at the hearing.” Id. at 240 n.2. The court continued to refer to the couple as the Kendles in the opinion.
      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        Rule 10, SCRCP (2009): Form of Pleadings

        “(a) Caption, Name of Parties. . . In the summons and complaint the title of the action shall include the names of all parties . . . .”

        Supreme Court and courts of appeal decisions searchable back to 1997 at http://www.judicial.state.sc.us/opinions/searchOpinion.cfm (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

      3. Relevant Statutes

        • S.C. CODE ANN. § 63-7-2600 (2009) provides for the sealing of all court records pertaining to termination of parental rights.

        • Rule 41.1, SCRCP (2009) states the rules and procedure for seeking court records to be sealed.

        • S.C. CODE ANN. § 44-29-136 (2009) allows for individuals with HIV/AIDS to use pseudonyms in proceedings relating to disclosure of such records.

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    27. South Dakota

      1. Caselaw

        Reported cases from South Dakota state courts are few. Three allow pseudonymous plaintiffs on appeal, but there is no mention in either of the procedure or any sort of court-applied balancing test of privacy interests. However, a hopeful Doe complainant could attempt to analogize to the privacy interests of the plaintiffs in the following cases:

        • Doe v. Quiring, 2004 SD 101 (S.D. 2004) – Jane Doe, an incest victim, seeks a writ of prohibition to prevent the listing of the names and offenses of convicted incest offenders on the state’s sex offender registry, under a state statute prohibition publication of the identity of victims. No mention of pseudonymity.

        • Doe v. Nelson, 680 N.W.2d 302 (S.D. 2004) – Doe plaintiffs seek to prevent publication of their identities as subjects of governor’s sealed pardons. The court considered the public interest in accessing public documents in the context of the pardons, but did not address the issue of the Doe pseudonym.

        • Roe v. Doe, 649 N.W.2d 566 (N.D. 2002) – Paternity action of Indian child, mother and alleged father use pseudonyms. Court does not discuss pseudonym use beyond a brief mention.

      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        S.D. CODIFIED LAWS § 15-6-10(a) (2009): Caption – Title

        “ . . . In the complaint the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties . . . .”

        Supreme Court cases are searchable dating back to 1996 at http://www.findlaw.com/11stategov/sd/sdca.html (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

      3. Relevant Statutes

        • S.D. CODIFIED LAWS § 15-15A-7 (2009) states what information in court records is not open to the public.

        • S.D. CODIFIED LAWS § 15-15A-8 (2009) protects PII from being revealed in court records.

        • S.D. CODIFIED LAWS § 34-23A-23 (2009) allows women who have had abortions to use pseudonyms in court proceedings brought under the state’s public health and safety laws.

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    28. Tennessee

      1. Caselaw

        Tennessee reported cases give an example of why a court allows a plaintiff to proceed under a pseudonym, and under what circumstances a pseudonym cannot be used. The following three cases provide facts to which to analogize and to distinguish when attempting to proceed pseudonymously:

        • Campbell v. Sundquist, 926 S.W.2d 250 (Tenn. App. 1996) – Doe plaintiffs are gay and challenge Tennessee’s Homosexual Practices Act, which criminalizes homosexual sex, under Tennessee’s constitutional right to privacy. Does fear eviction and/or being fired if their sexual orientation is revealed, not to mention that they could face criminal charges under the Tennessee statute. The court notes that the trial court allowed the identity of the Does to be placed under seal due to these fears. Id. at 253 n.1.

        • Doe v. HCA Health Services of Tennessee, Inc., 46 S.W.3d 191 (Tenn. 2001) – Doe sues hospital regarding no-payment for services she received not covered by her insurance. The court notes: “The trial court permitted the plaintiffs to use pseudonyms because “Mrs. Doe” is employed in a physician's office, and she feared that public disclosure of her identity might subject her employer to retaliation and/or embarrassment. No issue has been raised on appeal concerning the trial court's decision to allow the plaintiffs to prosecute this action under pseudonyms.” Id. at 194 n.1.

        • Vafaie v. Owens, No. 92C-1642, 1996 WL 502133 (Tenn. App. 1996) – The court notes the procedural posture: Plaintiff first brought suit as Jane Doe, alleging emotional distress, inter alia, from Defendants’ attempt to extort her to pay debts using the threat of publication of photos and videos of Plaintiff and a Defendant having sex. Defendants moved to dismiss, in part for failure to name a party under Tennessee rules of civil procedure. The trial court ordered the Plaintiff to substitute her real name after a hearing. She amended the complaint with her true name, and in the instant matter appealed summary judgment for Defendants.

        Other cases tacitly allow Doe plaintiffs in several contexts:

        • HIV infection: see Estate of Doe v. Vanderbilt University, Inc., 958 S.W.2d 117 (Tenn. App. 1997) (Doe contracted HIV from blood transfusion; infected her newborn in utero, both die of AIDS; no discussion of pseudonym).

        • Challenge to sex offender status: see Doe v. State, Dept. Of Children's Services, No. E2008-00511-COA-R3-CV, 2009 WL 17851 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2009) (Doe is autistic and a juvenile sex offender challenging listing; no discussion of pseudonym).

        • Sexual assault of adults: see Doe v. Linder Const. Co., Inc., 845 S.W.2d 173 (Tenn. 1992) (Jane Doe raped in her home after superintendent’s key copy to her home stolen); Doe v. Board of Educ. of Memphis City Schools, 799 S.W.2d 246 (Tenn. App. 1990) (Jane Doe is teacher raped at her workplace on a teachers’ prep day).

        • Sexual molestation of minors: see, e.g., Doe v. Goodwin, 254 S.W.3d 428 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2007) (John Doe raped by teacher at school); Doe v. Mama Taori's Premium Pizza, LLC, No. M1998-00992-COA-R9-CV, 2001 WL 327906 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2001) (noting pseudonym where minor teenage Doe begins homosexual relationship with adult coworker).

      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        TENN. R. CIV. P. 10.01 (2010): Caption – Names of parties

        “. . . In the complaint the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties . . . .”

        Supreme Court opinions are available online dating back to 1995 at http://www.tsc.state.tn.us/OPINIONS/TSC/Oplsttsc.htm (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

      3. Relevant Statutes

        • TENN. CODE ANN. § 37-1-153 (2010): juvenile court records are available only to limited classes of people.
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    29. Texas

      1. Caselaw

        Dicta in one case reveals that Texas courts do grant motions to proceed with a pseudonym where defendants will not be prejudiced in privacy-based actions. However, the court refused to allow the interlocutory appeal by the defendant of the grant of the plaintiff’s motion:

        • Topheavy Studios, Inc. v. Doe, No. 03-05-00022-CV, 2005 WL 1940159 (Tex. App. 2005) – Denying appeal of grant of pseuonym under Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem.Code Ann. § 51.014 (West Supp. 2004-05). In dicta, the court also states that “it does not appear that it would hinder Topheavy's ability to prepare an adequate defense. The order specifically allows for full discovery and states that Doe's true name may be used in depositions and in the investigation of the case as long as her name is given to only those individuals who must know her name in order to fully participate in the investigation. Essentially, the order only prevents the disclosure of Doe's true name to the media or in any public forum.” Id. at *7. Doe was a minor who lied about her age in order to participate in a topless contest that was being filmed; nude footage of Doe was included in Defendant’s internationally marketed video game; Doe sued for, inter alia, invasion of privacy based on both misappropriation of her likeness and the disclosure of private and embarrassing facts.

        Generally, Texas has scant caselaw to which a plaintiff seeking to proceed pseudonymously may analogize. Courts in the following cases do not address the use of pseudonyms:

        • Burdett v. Doe, No. 03-06-00198-CV, 2008 WL 5264913 (Tex. App. 2008) – John Doe’s HIV status is disclosed improperly by receptionist at clinic where he received treatment, both by yelling his name in the waiting room and by discussing that he was HIV positive loudly in a crowded restaurant. See also Texas Dept. of Health v. Doe, 994 S.W.2d 890 (Tex. App. 1999) (Doe claims HIV status improperly revealed by government employee).

        • State v. Doe, 61 S.W.3d 99 (Tex. App. 2001) – John Doe challenges under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution the Texas code section under which he was indicted, for circulating an anonymous flier criticizing a candidate for public office. No discussion of use of pseudonym.

        • SmithKline Beecham Corp. v. Doe, 903 S.W.2d 347 (Tex. 1995) – Doe fails pre-employment drug test. No discussion of pseudonym.

        • In re Doe, 22 S.W.3d 601 (Tex. App. 2000) – Doe is a female prisoner raped by a male guard. Doe’s civil suit followed a criminal conviction of Defendant.

        • Doe v. Franklin, 930 S.W.2d 921 (Tex. App. 1996) – Doe is granddaughter of Defendants; claims arise from sexual abuse of Doe by her grandfather. No discussion of pseudonym.

      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        TEX. R. CIV. P. 79 (2010): The Petition

        “The petition shall state the names of the parties and their residences, if known, together with the contents prescribed in Rule 47 above.”

        Supreme Court opinions searchable and available at http://www.supreme.courts.state.tx.us/opinions/opinionsearch.asp (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

      3. Relevant Statutes

        • Tex. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE ANN. § 51.014 (2010): Appeal from Interlocutory Order

        • TEX. R. CIV. P. 76a (2010) sets forth the rule and procedure for sealing court records.

        • TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE ANN. § 30.013 (2010) allows for the use of pseudonyms in actions involving the sexual abuse of minors.

        • TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. art. 57.01 (2010) allows the use of pseudonyms by victims of sexual offenses in court records.

        • TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. art. 57B.01 (2010) allows the use of pseudonyms by victims of family violence.

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    30. Utah

      1. Caselaw

        Caselaw from Utah does not treat a test for pseudonymity. Several cases do tacitly allow adult plaintiffs to proceed pseudonymously, even at the state Supreme Court, with the claims generally involving the revelation of medical records or conditions:

        • Doe v. Hafen, 772 P.2d 456 (Utah App. 1989) – Doe brings claims from a motorcycle collision, arguing she sustained head injuries leading to mental problems. Defendant argues these problems are from depression stemming from Doe’s prior miscarriage and voluntary sterilization, and wants to raise these issues in trial. No mention of pseudonym.

        • Doe v. Maret, 984 P.2d 980 (Utah 1999) – Doe sues for medical malpractice when her mental health records are improperly disclosed to her husband’s attorney during previous divorce proceedings which resulted in grant of custody of children to the husband. No discussion of pseudonym.

        Most reported caselaw from Utah courts with Doe plaintiffs, however, involves sexual abuse of minors and contains no discussion of the use of the pseudonym:

        • Doe v. Corp. of President of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 98 P.3d 429 (Utah App. 2004) – John Doe, a minor, was sexually abused by LDS priest.

        • Savage v. Utah Youth Village, 104 P.3d 1242 (Utah 2004) – Doe family sues due to foster child placed in their home who molested their son.

        • Doe v. Doe, 878 P.2d 1161 (Utah App. 1994) – Doe parents sue defendant Doe parents for negligent supervision when Defendant’s boy tries to have sex with Plaintiffs’ 8 year old daughter.

        • Doe v. Arguelles, 716 P.2d 279 (Utah 1985) – Custodian of minor girl sues when she is stabbed and raped by a minor on release from juvenile detention.

      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        URCP Rule 10 (2010): Form of Pleadings and Other Papers

        “(a) (2) In the complaint, the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties . . . .”

        Searchable Supreme Court and courts of appeal unpublished and published opinions available at http://www.utcourts.gov/opinions/index.html (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

      3. Relevant Statutes

        None noted.

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    31. Vermont

      1. Caselaw

        Reported Doe cases brought by civil plaintiffs in Vermont courts are limited to those with claims stemming from unlawful sexual relations. The opinions do not treat the use of pseudonyms, but the facts may be somewhat helpful for analogy for future plaintiffs wishing to proceed pseudonymously.

        • Doe v. Forrest, 853 A.2d 48 (Vt. 2004) – Doe is coerced into sex with the Deputy Sheriff after his repeated visits to her workplace, a store, and sexual innuendo. There was a criminal conviction prior to the civil suit. No discussion of pseudonymity.

        • Doe v. Newbury Bible Church, 182 Vt. 174, 933 A.2d 196 (Vt. 2007) – Doe is a minor abused by a pastor of the church. No discussion of the pseudonym.

      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        V.R.C.P. Rule 10 (2009): Form of Pleadings

        “(a) Caption; Names of Parties . . . In the complaint, the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties . . . .”

        Vermont only provides for free the opinions of recent Superior Court decisions, at http://www.vermontjudiciary.org/search/tcdecisioncvl.aspx (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

      3. Relevant Statutes

        • VER. STAT. ANN. tit. 15A § 6-102 (2010) seals records of adoptions.

        • VER. STAT. ANN. tit. 12 § 1705 (2010) provides for limited use of pseudonyms for proceedings regarding individuals infected with HIV.

        • VT. PUB. ACC. CT. REC. Rule 6 (2009) provides for a general right of public access to court records, with several exceptions, including juvenile and mental health proceedings, and financial information.

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    32. Virginia

      1. Caselaw

        Caselaw from Virginia’s courts does encompass discussion of why or when plaintiffs can use pseudonyms, using Virginia’s codification of the Stegall test at VA. ANN. CODE § 8.01-15.1 (see below).

        • Doe v. Briscoe, 61 Va. Cir. 96 (2003) – The Virginia circuit court applied the newly-minted statutory factors, derived from a Fourth Circuit case (James v. Jacobson, 6 F.3d 233, 238 (4th Cir. 1993) (James is a pseudonym)), and the court looked to foreign jurisdictions applying similar rules for analogues to the instant matter, such as U.S. District Courts from New York and North Carolina (Doe v. Shakur, 164 F.D.R. 359 (S.D.N.Y. 1996), Doe v. Smith, 189 F.R.D. 239 (E.D.N.Y. 1998), and Doe v. N.C. Central U., 1999 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9804 (M.D.N.C. 1999)). Id. at 99–100. It seems plain that in both intent and application the Virginia rule is mirrored upon the federal circuits’ analyses of plaintiff pseudonymity, upon which the lower district court cases rely.

        Further analogies can be made to the privacy interests of the plaintiffs in the following cases:

        • Doe v. Zwelling, 270 Va. 594, 620 S.E.2d 750 (Va. 2005) – Married couple, Doe and Poe, malpractice claims arise from the sexual relationship the wife had with her health care provider. The Supreme Court noted: “The trial court entered an order adopting the pseudonyms ‘John Doe’ for the plaintiff and ‘Sally Poe’ for his wife, to protect their privacy and that of their children.” Id. at 751 n.*.

        • Doe v. Carilion Medical Center, 65 Va. Cir. 104, 2004 WL 1470342 (Va. Cir. Ct. 2004) – Doe is HIV positive and careful not to reveal the fact to others, but her doctor spreads the information around the community. No discussion of pseudonym.

        • Doe v. Paradigm Management Co., Inc., 69 Va. Cir. 446, 2006 WL 147592 (Va. Cir. Ct. 2006) – Doe was sexually assaulted at her workplace and brings claims against employer. No discussion of pseudonym.

        • Doe v. Com., 74 Va. Cir. 75, 2007 WL 5984172 (Va. Cir. Ct. 2007) – Does are convicted sex offenders challenging the state sex offender registry. No discussion of pseudonym.

        A Virginia court disallowed a corporation from proceeding pseudonymously with defamation and publication of confidential materials claims:

        • America Online, Inc. v. Anonymous Publicly Traded Co., 542 S.E.2d 377 (Va. 2001) – AOL contests the plaintiff corporation’s pseudonymity as granted by the trial court. The instant court found that no hearing or reasons for the pseudonym were given to the trial court. The court turned to the reasoning of federal cases such as Stegall, Does I thru XXIII, and James v. Jacobsen, including the need for a threat of some social stigma or physical harm. It held that the instant plaintiff failed to put forward any special interests justifying a pseudonym. Fear of economic harm from bad publicity from the litigation was insufficient. Note this opinion issued before the state legislation, below, passed.
      2. Virginia provides fairly straightforward procedures for anonymous filing—all a plaintiff must do is file as “anonymous” or under a pseudonym. If the anonymous filing is challenged, a court will evaluate factors to determine whether the plaintiff should be forced to reveal his or her identity.

      3. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        Virginia is unusual in that the Virginia legislature went so far as to codified a Stegall-like five-factor test for plaintiff pseudonymity. Virginia Annotated Code Section 8.01-15.1 was enacted in 2003 (2003 Va. Acts 572), and provides for a test for when a pseudonymous party is challenged by motion concerning the propriety of the pseudonymity. The test, by implication, requires “special circumstances” for which the plaintiff requests pseudonymity, and considers:

        [1] if the pseudonymity is merely to “avoid the annoyance and criticism that may attend any litigation or is to preserve privacy in a sensitive and highly personal matter;

        [2] whether identification poses a risk of physical or mental harm to the requesting party or to innocent nonparties;

        [3] the age of the persons whose privacy interests are sought to be prosecuted;

        [4] whether the action is against a governmental or private party; and

        [5] the risk of unfairness to other parties if pseudonymity is maintained.

        If pseudonymous in court filings, all parties and the court have the right to know the identity of the plaintiff. After an initial determination that the party may proceed pseudonymously, pseudonymity may nevertheless be challenged “at any stage of the litigation” when the circumstances warrant reconsideration. VA. CODE ANN. § 8.01-15.1(B) (2009). If the court determines that the plaintiff cannot use a pseudonym, the statute provides for reform of documents and relation back to the original filing date(s). Id. § 8.01-15.1(C). See also John R. Walk, Civil Practice and Procedure, 39 U. RICH. L. REV. 87, 126 (2004).

        Supreme Court opinions are available online but not searchable, dating back to 1995 at http://www.courts.state.va.us/scndex.htm (last visited Apr, 20, 2010).

      4. Relevant Statutes

        • VA. CODE ANN. § 16.1-305 (2010) provides for confidentiality of court records pertaining to juvenile proceedings and domestic relations.

        • VA. CODE ANN. § 17.1-208 (2010) provides that in general, court records are open to inspection.

        • Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-15.1 - Anonymous plaintiff; motion for identification; factors to be considered by court.

        • Va. Code Ann. § 19.2-11.2 - Crime victim’s right to nondisclosure of certain information; exceptions; testimonial privilege.

      5. Cases

        1. Doe v. Comm. Com’r Dept. Motor Vehicles, No. CL12-1919, 2012 WL 9334681 (Va. Cir. Ct. Oct. 9, 2012)
          • Law: Anonymous plaintiff; motion for identification; factors to be considered by court.
          • Facts: Petitioner was convicted of driving under the influence, and by administrative order, the Virginia DMV revoked Petitioner’s driving privileges for one year. Petitioner and the DMV disputed whether New Jersey or Virginia’s statute on revocation of driving privileges ought to apply, and how the applicable statute ought to be interpreted. Second, the DMV made a Motion for Identification.
          • Outcome: The court reasoned that Section 8.01-15.1 places the burden on the anonymous litigant to show “special circumstances” that outweigh the public’s interest in knowing the identity of the petitioner and prejudice to the petitioner to allow anonymity. Petitioner relied on a statute providing for confidentiality and nondisclosure of driving records, and contended that DMV had records that allowed it to match the proceedings to Petitioner. The court considered these and the other factors of the statute, and found that Petitioner did not satisfy any of Section 8.01-15.1 factors for anonymity.
          • Special Notes: This case suggests that a petitioner who wishes to proceed anonymously in the face of a Motion for Identification must take care to address each factor of Section 8.01-15.1, rather than rely on an extraneous theory of confidentiality, whether statutory or otherwise.
        2. Am. Online, Inc., v. Anon. Pub. Traded Co., 542 S.E.2d 377 (Va. Sup. Ct. 2001).
          • Procedural Posture: Appeal. The trial court refused to grant AOL’s motion to quash the subpoena duces tecum or issue a protective order barring discovery sought by the anonymous litigant.
          • Law: Anonymous plaintiff; motion for identification; factors to be considered by court.
          • Facts: Plaintiff, anonymous corporation, filed a complaint against John Doe defendants, whose identities and residences were unknown, who allegedly made defamatory and disparaging material representations about the company in chat rooms. The court issued an order authorizing a discovery request to AOL, to obtain the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and any other identifying information pertaining to the four AOL subscriber John Doe defendants.
          • Outcome: While Rule 3:3 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia requires the “names” of the parties to be stated in pleadings, the court recognized certain circumstances permitting a plaintiff to proceed under a pseudonym. The court held that upon showing of special circumstances when a party’s need for anonymity outweighs the public’s interest in knowing the party’s identity and the prejudice to the opposing party, a court may exercise its discretion to allow a party to proceed anonymously. Circumstances may change as litigation progresses, which may require reconsideration of initial rulings. Here, the anonymous corporation only supported its request to proceed anonymously by fear of economic harm, and accordingly had not borne its burden to show special circumstances justifying anonymity.
          • Special Notes: Petitioners wishing to proceed anonymously should not rely on only one factor of the multi-factor statute; they should allege and offer evidence of multiple factors in order to proceed anonymously, in the face of a Motion for Identification.
        3. Doe v. Briscoe, 61 Va. Cir. 96 (2003).
          • Procedural Posture: The proceeding was stayed until resolution of Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss due to the anonymous filing.
          • Law: Anonymous plaintiff; motion for identification; factors to be considered by court.
          • Facts: Plaintiff alleged she was sexually assaulted by a church minister.
          • Outcome: The court found “courts have generally been reluctant to provide anonymity based on a plaintiff’s potential embarrassment, even if the case involves sexual assault,” and here, Plaintiff had a non-particularized concern regarding the personal nature of the alleged assault and embarrassment, and did not allege or show any other evidence. Considering that Plaintiff met with the church’s credentials committee and made no effort to proceed anonymously, the court held that she did not meet her burden to show anonymity is required to preserve her privacy. Though Plaintiff alleged that she may be placed at risk of physical or mental harm by students of the church-affiliated university, or the church itself, the court held that she did not meet her burden to show a risk of retaliatory harm. The court held that her age—nineteen at the time of filing, and now almost twenty-one—does not meet satisfy the age factor of the statute. The court found that the action being against a private party, as opposed to the government, weighed against Plaintiff. The court was neutral on risk of unfairness to the opposing party. The court finally considered the public right of access to the court. The court did not permit Plaintiff to proceed pseudonymously.
          • Special Notes: This case indicates that some courts may consider the statute a multi-factor test to be considered under a totality of the circumstances, such that plaintiffs need to carry their burden on enough of the factors to warrant anonymity in the proceeding.
      6. Practice Pointers

        • A plaintiff seeking to proceed anonymously should simply file his or her complaint as “Anonymous,” or under a pseudonym.
        • If the plaintiff’s anonymity is challenged through a Motion for Identification, the plaintiff should take care to argue that anonymity is warranted under multiple Section 8.01-15.1 factors.
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    33. Washington

      1. Caselaw

        Several reported cases in Washington have Doe plaintiffs bringing privacy claims. The opinions briefly treat the use of pseudonyms, demonstrating it is possible for privacy-tort plaintiffs to protect their identities. The following cases could provide helpful analogies:

        • Doe v. Gonzaga University, 24 P.3d 390 (Wash. 2001), rev’d by 536 U.S. 273 – Doe was elementary education graduate student at Defendant university, whose moral character document, necessary to obtain employment as a teacher, was refused by Defendant, at which point Doe becomes cognizant of various Defendant’s employees’ spread of rumors and stories concerning an improper or forced sexual relationship between Doe and a girlfriend, who herself denies any accusation of rape. Doe sues pseudonymously for inter alia invasion of privacy and defamation. The court notes that although the trial transcript reveals his true name, Doe continues to be identified in the opinion as Doe, as well as the girlfriend who was not a party.

        • Bellevue John Does 1-11 v. Bellevue School District #405, 120 P.3d 616 (Wash. App. 2005) – Does are public school teachers whose sexual misconduct files created by the school board are set to be released to the public. Does challenge the release. The court finds in favor of those Doe plaintiffs who were falsely accused as the public could have no interest in their identities, but not in favor of those Does for whom the accusations were unresolved, yet could plausibly have been true. The Does sue under the state’s mini-FOIA statute; however, the statute does not address suing pseudonymously, and the court does not treat the issue directly.

        • Doe v. Puget Sound Blood Center, 819 P.2d 370 (Wash. 1991) – Doe gets HIV and AIDS from a blood transfusion at Defendant center. The instant matter is an appeal discovery request for the blood donor’s name, which the Court denies. However, the Court also notes that “[t]he actual names of the plaintiff-blood recipient and his wife were disclosed in the original pleadings. Those names have been changed to John and Jane Doe and John Doe's estate substituted for the deceased blood recipient. The file was sealed pursuant to stipulation.” Id. at 372.

        One case demonstrates that Washington courts allow pseudonyms where plaintiffs expose themselves to criminal charges in their civil suits:

        • Roe v. TeleTech Customer Care Management (Colorado), LLC, 216 P.3d 1055 (Wash. App. 2009) – Roe challenges resciccion of conditional employment offer after she tests positive for opiates. The Court notes: “The appellant uses the pseudonym Jane Roe’ because the medical use of marijuana remains illegal under federal law.” Id. at 1057 n.1.

        Another case demonstrates factors weighing against pseudonyms:

        • Doe v. Corp. of President of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 167 P.3d 1193(Wash. App. 2007) – Does sue for sexual abuse as minors. On appeal the court names the plaintiff in the opinion, noting the reasons: “because their identity was reveled and used in their own briefing” and because they are no longer under 18. Id. at 1196 n.2.

        Washington cases also demonstrate that family law claims may be made by pseudonymous plaintiffs. See, e.g., In re Welfare of M.T. 848 P.2d 1302 (Wash. App. 1993) (parental termination; no discussion of pseudonym).

      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        Wash. CR 10 (2009): Form of pleadings and other papers

        (a)(1) “Names of parties In the complaint the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties, but in other pleadings it is sufficient to state the name of the first party on each side with an appropriate indication of other parties.”

        Published and unpublished Supreme Court and courts of appeals opinions available at http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/index.cfm (last visited Apr. 20, 2010). Some historical opinions are available at http://www.legalwa.org/.

      3. Relevant Statutes

        • Wash. GR 15 (2009) presents the rule and procedure for sealing or redacting court records.

        • Wash. GR 31 (2009) states that court records are in general open to public access.

        • Wash. JISCR 15 (2009) pertains to dissemination of information in court records by computer. One factor to be considered before data is released is “(f)(3) Potential for infringement of personal privacy created by release of the information requested.”

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    34. West Virginia

      1. Caselaw

        Reported cases from West Virginia do not discuss rules or reasons for Doe plaintiffs. One case to which an analogy could be drawn with respect to the privacy interest of the Doe plaintiff is:

        • Doe v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 558 S.E.2d 663 (W. Va. 2001) – Doe is victim of kidnapping from Defendant’s parking lot, and a subsequent rape. The court does not discuss the use of the pseudonym.
      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        1. VA. R.C.P., Rule 10 (2009): Form of pleadings

        “(a) Caption; names of parties. . . . In the complaint the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties . . . .”

        Supreme Court opinions are searchable and available only from 1991 forward at http://www.state.wv.us/wvsca/opinions.htm (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

      3. Relevant Statutes

          1. VA. CODE § 49-7-1 (2009) provides that court records pertaining to juvenile or child court proceedings are to be confidential.
          1. VA. CODE § 16-2I-6 (2009) allows women who have received abortions to use pseudonyms in court proceedings arising under the Women’s Right to Know Act.
          1. VA. CODE § 16-3C-3 (2009) provides for the use of a pseudonym for HIV infected individuals who would otherwise be identified in pleadings under the AIDS-related Medical Testing and Confidentiality Act.
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    35. Wisconsin

      1. Caselaw

        A few reported Wisconsin cases with Doe plaintiffs demonstrate the privacy interests needed to sustain pseudonymity.

        • Local 2489, AFSCME, AFL-CIO v. Rock County, 689 N.W.2d 644 (Wis. App. 2004) – Thirteen Doe plaintiffs are employees of Defendant and union members who challenge department’s planned release of records of misconduct for watching pornography on their employers’ computers. They sue under the state public record act. There is no direct mention of the use of pseudonyms. In the Plaintiffs’ complaint, they assert that publication in the intervenor newspaper of this “highly personal, embarrassing, or otherwise prejudicial information” could cause “serious harm to the privacy and reputational interests” of the plaintiffs. Complaint, 2003 WL 25698541.

        • Doe v. Ellis, 309 N.W.2d 375 (Wis. App. 1981) – Doe, a patient in a mental state institution, requests “sexual devices” and pornography and is granted the request. A state legislator releases the request record to news media without concealing patient’s identity, and Doe brings invasion of privacy action. No discussion of pseudonym.

        • Suits arising from HIV infection have been brought with pseudonyms, but reported cases lack discussion of the reasoning. See, e.g., Doe v. American Nat. Red Cross, 500 N.W.2d 264 (Wis. 1993); Doe by Doe v. Roe, 444 N.W.2d 437 (Wis. App. 1989) (where Doe’s HIV positive test result, previously concealed, was only revealed for the first time at trial for medical malpractice stemming from same hospital visit).

        • Adults bringing claims arising from sexual abuses also have tacitly been allowed to litigate as Does. See, e.g., Doe v. Archdiocese of Milwaukee, 524 N.W.2d 647 (Wis. App. 1994) (Doe has 10 month consensual sexual relationship with her priest); Doe v. Vocational, Technical and Educational Dist. No. 4, 442 N.W.2d 604 (Wis. App. 1989) (Doe sexually assaulted by inmate released on work duty at her place of employment).

        • Interestingly, a case where a minor was involved with shooting at the police, and where the incident was reported with the minor’s true name in the Defendant newspaper, the minor was allowed to bring claims under a Doe pseudonym without discussion of the pseudonym by the appellate court. See Doe v. Lee Enterprises, 337 N.W.2d 855 (Wis. App. 1983).

      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        WIS. STAT. § 802.04 (2009): Form of Pleadings

        “(1) Caption . . . the title of the action shall include the names and addresses of all the parties, indicating the representative capacity, if any, in which they sue or are sued . . . .”

        Supreme Court opinions dating back to 1995 are searchable at http://www.wicourts.gov/opinions/sopinion.htm (last visited Apr. 20, 2010). The same website also has links to search courts of appeal opinions.

      3. Relevant Statutes

        None noted.

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    36. Wyoming

      1. Caselaw

        Very little reported cases from Wyoming courts have Doe plaintiffs. One case tacitly allowed the plaintiffs to use pseudonyms where they bring a constitutional challenge against the state’s anti-abortion law. See Doe v. Burk, 513 P.2d 643 (Wyo. 1973) (where Doe is “named” plaintiff for a class action).

      2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

        WYO. R. CIV. PROC. Rule 10 (2010): Form of Pleadings

        “(a) Caption; names of parties . . . In the complaint the title of the action shall include the names of all the parties . . . .”

        Supreme Court opinions are searchable and available at http://wyom.state.wy.us/applications/oscn/index.asp?ftdb=STWY&level=1 (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

      3. Relevant Statutes

        • WYO. STAT. ANN. § 14-3-214 (2010) provides for confidentiality pertaining to child abuse or neglect.
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