Filing Pseudonymously: Maryland


  1. Maryland
  1. Maryland

    1. Caselaw

      Maryland’s appellate courts have taken a detailed look at sealed records in conjunction with the presumption of open courts, but did not formulate as formulaic a rule as in federal courts.

      • Doe v. Shady Grove Adventist Hosp., 598 A.2d 507 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 1991) – Doe is hospitalized and reveals he has AIDS; doctors and nurses betray confidentiality and informs Doe’s family and friends. In filing suit for invasion of privacy and breach of confidentiality, Doe moved for injunctions to bar Defendants from revealing any more, and to sue under a pseudonym, and the trial court granted the motion. Newspapers intervened to learn Doe’s identity, and the motion was overturned. Doe appealed. In its analysis, the court cited and weighed federal and state opinions demonstrating First Amendment interests in open courts, the constitutional right to privacy, as well as state statutes about confidentiality of health records, and the need for plaintiffs to be able to effectively pursue judicial enforcement of rights. Finding no state cases on point, the court turned to federal cases, including Stegall, but fashioned no specific test. It determined that there was a compelling government interest in protecting Doe’s identity, and that because Doe had carefully guarded his identity to date, he had not waived confidentiality.

      • King v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 850 A.2d 428 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2004) – State farm sought to keep its identity as a defendant in an auto accident tort case, due to its insurance of a party, from the jury. The court distinguished the instant matter to federal cases including Stegall and Shady Grove, and held that keeping from the jury the fact that the insurer had been joined as a party was non-harmless error.

      Other reported cases from Maryland with Doe plaintiffs, but less discussion of pseudonymity in the opinions, run the gamut:

      • Doe v. Board of Educ. of Montgomery County, 453 A.2d 814 (Md. 1982) – Does are students with learning disabilities and parents, suing for lack of accommodation in public schools. Court notes that plaintiff’s counsel asserted that “it is not necessary at this time to publicly disclose Plaintiff's name as it would result in further psychological injury,” but is otherwise silent on issue of pseudonymity. Id. at 814 n.1.

      • Doe v. Doe, 712 A.2d 132 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 1998), rev’d, 747 A.2d 617 – Does are divorcing couple where the paternity of the couple’s children is questioned. Court notes: “For reasons that will become obvious, the proper names of the parties have been redacted.” Id. at 135 n.1.

      • County Executive of Prince George's County v. Doe, 479 A.2d 352 (Md. 1984) – Does bring constitutional challenge to state abortion restriction laws. No discussion of pseudonymity.

      • Miles Laboratories, Inc. Cutter Laboratories Div. v. Doe, 556 A.2d 1107 (Md. 1989) – Doe plaintiffs, husband and wife, sue after medical procedure infects wife with HIV. No discussion of pseudonymity.

      • Doe v. Maskell, 679 A.2d 1087 (Md. 1996) – Doe and Roe claim sexual abuse as minors by priest; now adults. No discussion of pseudonymity.

    2. Filing Requirements & Availability of Court Records

      MD. RULE 1-301 (2009): Form of court papers

      (a) Caption and titling. Every pleading and paper filed shall contain a caption setting forth (1) the parties or, where appropriate, the matter, (2) the name of the court, (3) the assigned docket reference, and (4) a brief descriptive title of the pleading or paper which indicates its nature. An original pleading shall contain the names and addresses, including zip code, of all parties to the action if the names and addresses are known to the person filing the pleading. If the address of a party is unknown, the pleading shall so state. In other pleadings and papers, it is sufficient to state the name of the first party on each side with an appropriate indication of other parties.

      MD. RULE 2-201 (2009): “Every action shall be prosecuted in the name of the real party in interest . . . ."

      Maryland Appellate Court Opinions are available and searchable at (last visited Apr. 20, 2010).

    3. Relevant Statutes

      None noted.

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