Court split over valid ID requirement for name change

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The Court of Appeals concluded Wednesday that the trial court erred when it required a valid driver’s license or state identification card as a prerequisite to grant a petition for a name change under Indiana Code 34-28-2, but split over whether an elderly man can change his name because he’s never had a valid state-issued ID.

John William Resnover and John Arthur Herron, both in their 70s, filed petitions in Marion Circuit Court to change their names to the ones they used after discovering different names on their birth certificates. Resnover’s birth certificate lists his name as John Willie Cheatham; Herron’s lists his name as “Infant Male Payne.” Resnover received an Indiana driver’s license, Social Security card and pension using the Resnover name, and didn’t discover the name discrepancy until his license expired and he tried renewing it.

Herron never received a driver’s license or ID card, but did obtain a Social Security card and selective service card identifying him as Herron. His criminal record also lists him as Herron. He did not discover the name discrepancy until he went to apply for Medicaid.

Both men petitioned for name changes, and the Circuit Court denied the requests. Judge Louis Rosenberg reasoned that neither man provided a valid driver’s license or Indiana-issued ID card.

In In Re the Name Change of John William Resnover and In Re the Name Change of John Arthur Herron, 49A02-1205-MI-364, the Court of Appeals looked at I.C. 34-28-2-2 and decided based on the language that all is required is a valid driver’s license or ID number, not an actual card. The statute stipulates the inclusion of the number for a petition for name change. This will allow Resnover the ability to petition for his name change since he has had a valid license in the past and a unique number assigned to him, Judge Patricia Riley wrote.

But Herron’s case is more challenging because he never had a state-issued driver’s license or ID. He asked the court to interpret the “if applicable” phrase in the statute to mean that one has to present a valid license or ID if one is available. The state, as an amicus, opposed this interpretation, claiming it would “gut the statute” and make requirements of subsection 2.5 discretionary.

Judge Terry Crone agreed with the state on this point and believed that Herron should obtain a license or ID using the name on his birth certificate, and then petition to have his named changed to the one he has used his entire life.

But Riley and Judge L. Mark Bailey interpreted the “if applicable” language to indicate that if the required documentation outlined in subsection 2.5 can’t be submitted to the court, the petitioner is relieved from the necessity to produce the documents.

The majority remanded for further proceedings.


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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

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  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.