Filing Pseudonymously: District of Columbia

  1. 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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