Filing Under a Pseudonym
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)).
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).
IND. ADMIN. RULE 9(A): Access to court records.
This rule outlines the state’s rule regarding public access to court records.