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Attorney again denied use of pseudonym in suit

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A northern Indiana attorney who filed a lawsuit against Porter Memorial Hospital and its employees following her involuntary detention has once again lost her battle to proceed using a pseudonym instead of her real name.

This is the fourth time the federal court has denied the motion of "Jane Noe" seeking permission to use an alias in her litigation. The attorney was detained in January 2008 in a facility for people who may be mentally ill and dangerous or gravely disabled. She claimed she was held beyond the 72-hour limit, forced to undress for a physical examination, forced to teleconference with her parents, and denied an initial examination with the staff psychiatrist until after a day had passed.

Magistrate Judge Andrew P. Rodovich had previously denied Noe's motion three times and required her to proceed with the lawsuit using her real name; Judge James T. Moody issued the fourth order denying her motion earlier this week in Jane Noe v. Jennifer Carlos, et al., No. 2:08-cv-227.

Judge Moody ruled Noe's objections to the Nov. 26, 2008, order by the magistrate were untimely because she failed to get her filing in within 10 days of service. The judge still considered her objections for "plain" error because of the gravity of the ultimate issue, he wrote.

One of Noe's main arguments was Magistrate Rodovich's Nov. 26 ruling was contrary to law because it was issued before her reply in support of her motion was due, thereby depriving her of the opportunity to be fully heard in support of her motion. But again Noe miscalculated a deadline by excluding weekends. Noe believed she had until Dec. 1, 2008, based on Fed. R. Civ. P. 6, to file her reply to an Oct. 30 initial response by the defendants; it was actually due Nov. 10.

In response to the defendant's supplemental response filed Nov. 13, Noe should have been allowed seven days to file an additional reply, which would have fallen on Dec. 1 because of Thanksgiving Day, wrote the judge. Even though Magistrate Rodovich issued his order without giving Noe a full seven days to file a reply to the Nov. 13 supplement, it didn't prejudice Noe, wrote Judge Moody. It's clear the magistrate's ruling would have been the same even if he had not considered the supplemental response.

Noe believed she should be allowed to litigate anonymously because she says her future employment prospects will be severely impacted - especially in the legal community - because of the stigmatization of individuals with mental illness. She also argued there are many published cases allowing a person to proceed under a pseudonym; however, none of the cases she cited were in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

But Noe's arguments fail because in the 7th Circuit, litigation under a pseudonym is strongly disfavored and must be conducted using the parties' real names unless exceptional circumstances are present, wrote Judge Moody.

"Although plaintiff believes that her profession makes this the exceptional case, that would mean that every attorney litigating a case involving alleged mental illness could do so anonymously, and that is certainly not the law, at least in this circuit," the judge wrote.

Noe has until May 1, 2009, to comply with Magistrate Rodovich's order by filing an amended complaint that doesn't use a pseudonym. Failure to do so will result in a dismissal of this action, beginning the time for Noe to take an appeal, should she so choose.

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  1. Based on several recent Indy Star articles, I would agree that being a case worker would be really hard. You would see the worst of humanity on a daily basis; and when things go wrong guess who gets blamed??!! Not biological parent!! Best of luck to those who entered that line of work.

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  3. Don't believe me, listen to Pacino: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6bC9w9cH-M

  4. Law school is social control the goal to produce a social product. As such it began after the Revolution and has nearly ruined us to this day: "“Scarcely any political question arises in the United States which is not resolved, sooner or later, into a judicial question. Hence all parties are obliged to borrow, in their daily controversies, the ideas, and even the language, peculiar to judicial proceedings. As most public men [i.e., politicians] are, or have been, legal practitioners, they introduce the customs and technicalities of their profession into the management of public affairs. The jury extends this habitude to all classes. The language of the law thus becomes, in some measure, a vulgar tongue; the spirit of the law, which is produced in the schools and courts of justice, gradually penetrates beyond their walls into the bosom of society, where it descends to the lowest classes, so that at last the whole people contract the habits and the tastes of the judicial magistrate.” ? Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

  5. Attorney? Really? Or is it former attorney? Status with the Ind St Ct? Status with federal court, with SCOTUS? This is a legal newspaper, or should I look elsewhere?

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