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Goico v. State

United States District Court, D. Kansas

May 10, 2019

PETER MARIO GOICO Plaintiff,
v.
STATE OF KANSAS and GOVERNOR LAURA KELLY Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          GWYNNE E. BIRZER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         On March 8, 2019, Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, filed a Complaint against the State of Kansas seeking to oppose any future legalization of marijuana.[1] Plaintiff asserts legalization would be unconstitutional and will interfere with his investment in a pharmaceutical company.[2] The current issues before the Court, however, are Plaintiff's Motion to be Anonymous Plaintiff Based on Information of the Utmost Intimacy (ECF No. 16), Motion to Reconsider Appointment of Counsel (ECF No. 17), and Emergency Motion to Temporarily Redact Name Pending Outcome of Motion to be Anonymous Plaintiff Based on Information of the Utmost Intimacy (ECF No. 19). Upon careful review and for the reasons stated herein, all Motions described above are DENIED.

         I. Motion to be Anonymous Plaintiff Based on Information of the Utmost Intimacy (ECF No. 16) and Emergency Motion to Temporarily Redact Name Pending Outcome of Motion to be Anonymous (ECF No. 19).

         A. Background

         The undersigned Magistrate Judge has already denied Plaintiff's request to proceed anonymously in the case.[3] This ruling came in a March 26, 2019 Memorandum and Order (“Order”), which also denied Plaintiff's request to the seal the case.[4] Plaintiff, as is his right, timely filed an Objection to the undersigned's rulings on these issues.[5] On April 12, 2019, District Judge J. Thomas Marten, after considering Plaintiff's arguments, overruled Plaintiff's Objection and ordered the case unsealed pursuant the undersigned's Order.[6]

         On April 25, 2019, Plaintiff filed an Emergency Motion to Re-Seal Case Pending Further Objection and Possible Appeal.[7] Plaintiff asserted certain arguments regarding “issues of utmost intimacy” made in his Objection were not ruled on by Judge Marten.[8]On April 29, 2019, Judge Marten denied this Motion because Plaintiff failed to make these arguments in his original motions to seal the case and proceed anonymously.[9] Judge Marten also specifically held that this “case will not be sealed” and “[a]dditional motions on the issue will be summarily denied by the court.”[10]

         Despite this directive, Plaintiff has filed yet another motion on this subject matter, entitled Motion to be Anonymous Plaintiff based on Information of the Utmost Intimacy, which is currently before the Court. The Court understands Plaintiff's Motion is not technically a motion to seal and raises facts and arguments not previously presented. The Court also appreciates Plaintiff proceeds pro se, and while pro se parties are granted some leeway, they are still expected to follow the Court's rules.[11] Parties are expected to raise all factual and legal arguments in one motion. Failure to do so normally waives those arguments if later raised.[12] Of course, there is an exception if facts not previously known are later discovered or there is a change in the law, but repeated filings requesting the same relief without stating new legal or factual grounds are considered an abuse of the judicial process, and are also a drain on the Court's limited resources.[13] Plaintiff is now advised of this and should conduct himself accordingly as the case progresses.

         B. Discussion

         The Court now turns to the merits of Plaintiff's Motion to be Anonymous Plaintiff based on Information of the Utmost Intimacy. Plaintiff argues he should be allowed to proceed anonymously because he suffers from Autism Spectrum Disorder, and some aspects of that disability are “extremely intimate.”[14] He points to an incident occurring years ago where he was a “victim of a drug addict seeking money for his next fix.”[15]Plaintiff states when he informed police of this incident, they ridiculed him for being “stupid.” Plaintiff described the experience as “beyond humiliating” and asserts it shows how aspects of his disability can be “stigmatizing.”[16]

         Proceeding under a pseudonym in federal court is, by all accounts, “an unusual procedure.”[17] The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not contemplate the anonymity of parties.[18] To the contrary, Rule 10(a) requires that the title of a complaint “must name all the parties, ” and Rule 17(a) prescribes that an action be prosecuted “in the name of the real party in interest.” Whether a plaintiff may proceed anonymously is subject to the discretion of the trial court.[19]

         Additionally, there is a substantial benefit to maintaining open court proceedings, and thus the public has an interest in knowing the identity of litigants.[20] However, like other courts, the Tenth Circuit has “recognized that there may be exceptional circumstances warranting some form of anonymity in judicial proceedings.”[21] The Tenth Circuit adopted the following standard:

Lawsuits are public events. A plaintiff should be permitted to proceed anonymously only in exceptional cases involving matters of highly sensitive and personal nature, real danger of physical harm, or where the injury litigated against would be incurred as a result of the disclosure of the plaintiff's identity. The risk that a plaintiff may suffer some embarrassment is not enough.[22]

         The Court does not find this to be an “exceptional” case justifying proceeding anonymously. The Court understands certain aspects of Plaintiff's disability are embarrassing, but, as stated above, the risk a party may suffer some embarrassment is not enough.

         Additionally, the Court cannot discern why Plaintiff's disability is relevant to the case at hand. Plaintiff seeks to enjoin the State of Kansas from legalizing marijuana because it will interfere with his investment in a pharmaceutical company. There is no apparent link between that and Plaintiff's disability. Plaintiff states aspects of his disability are likely to come out during discovery and are important to proving his standing, but he does not explain why. At this stage, however, the Court can see no connection.

         Finally, while Plaintiff does cite cases in support of his arguments, they are distinguishable.[23] Plaintiff cites Doe v. Stegall[24] and Doe v. USD No. 237 Smith Ctr. Sch. Dist, [25] but those cases involved incidents concerning minors, which was the main reason both courts allowed anonymous proceedings.[26] Plaintiff also cites Jane Roes 1-2 v. SFBSC Mgmt., LLC, where the court allowed exotic dancers suing their employer to proceed anonymously due to stigmatization and safety concerns regarding their profession.[27] The overarching reason the court allowed anonymity was because the case fell “into what may be roughly called the area of human sexuality.”[28] The court recognized parties are often allowed to use pseudonyms in cases involving “topics in this ‘sensitive and highly personal' area.”[29]

         In contrast, Plaintiff is not a minor, and no allegations in Plaintiff's Complaint occurred when he was a minor. Nor does Plaintiff's case or his disability involve the heightened privacy area of human sexuality. Additionally, the subject matter of the above cases related to the reasons the plaintiffs were seeking to proceed anonymously. As explained above, the Court can see no connection between Plaintiff seeking to enjoin the legalization of marijuana and his disability.

         For the foregoing reasons, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion to be Anonymous Plaintiff based on Information of the Utmost Intimacy. Accordingly, the Court also DENIES Plaintiff's Emergency Motion to Temporarily Redact Name Pending Outcome of Motion to be Anonymous Plaintiff Based on Information of the Utmost Intimacy.

         II. Motion to Reconsider Appointment of ...


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