Filing Pseudonymously: Alaska


  1. Alaska
  1. 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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