Filing Pseudonymously: Iowa


  1. Iowa
  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 App. 2007) (unpublished opinion) (concerning the court’s jurisdiction over abuse occurring out of state).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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