Filing Pseudonymously: Georgia


  1. Georgia
  1. 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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