Pseudonymous State Court Defendants Might Want to Avoid Removing the Case to Federal Court
A cautionary tale, from Doe v. Doe (S.D. Ohio). An Oberlin college student sued a fellow student in Ohio state court for libel, claiming that she (the defendant) had falsely accused him (the plaintiff) of rape. The state court had allowed both parties to be pseudonymous. But federal courts generally view Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 10(a) as presumptively barring pseudonymous litigation, so the federal judge (Judge James Gwin) on his own initiative required the parties to explain why they should remain anonymous—and ultimately concluded that they had to be identified:
On March 12, 2020, Plaintiff John Doe sued Defendant Jane Doe in the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas. On March 13, 2020, the Lorain County Court granted Plaintiff’s motion for both parties to proceed using pseudonyms. On May 8, 2020, Defendant removed the case to this Court.
On June 3, 2020, the Court ordered both parties to file briefing on whether they can proceed anonymously. Both parties complied and moved to proceed
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