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Judge: Attorney can't sue using pseudonym

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A Northern District magistrate judge has again denied an attorney's motion to proceed with a lawsuit under a pseudonym, finding the type of injury the attorney may suffer as a result of suit doesn't rise to the level to justify anonymity.

This is the third time U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew P. Rodovich has denied the attorney's motion to use a pseudonym in her lawsuit, Jane Noe v. Jennifer Carlos, et al., No. 2:08-cv-227. The court denied this latest motion Nov. 26.

The attorney was detained in January 2008 in a facility for people who may be mentally ill and dangerous or gravely disabled. She claims 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.

The attorney wants to proceed with her suit against Porter Memorial Hospital and its employees under the pseudonym Jane Noe to prevent her from public ridicule and embarrassment, and to protect her medical records.

The magistrate judge considered the factors in determining whether a plaintiff's interest in privacy is so significant as to outweigh the presumption of favoring public identification, as outlined in Doe v. Indiana Black Expo, Inc., 923 F. Supp. 131, 140, (S.D Ind. 1996), and ruled Noe didn't meet the factors to require anonymity. He also wrote that her medical records could be sealed.

Magistrate Judge Rodovich also noted the prejudice against the defendants in this case if the attorney is allowed to proceed with the pseudonym. Noe showed a lack of good judgment by sending surveys that explore the application of the Indiana Code under which she was detained to physicians working for the defendants, the magistrate judge wrote, adding in a footnote that her contact with the doctors under the guise of "psychological research" strongly suggests improper ex parte contact.

Noe's accusations against the defendants include their names in the caption and they, too, have an interest in their reputations.

"By her ex parte communications, Noe has shown the precise prejudice that the use of a pseudonym here would permit," he wrote.

The magistrate judge ordered Noe to file an amended complaint under her true name consistent with the rules or else her case would be dismissed. Noe has until Dec. 5 to file the amended complaint without the pseudonym.

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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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