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In re Petition of Clark

Court of Appeals of Kansas

September 6, 2019

In the Matter of the Petition of Beau Lee Clark.

         SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

         1. The statutory name change provisions in Kansas do not require demonstration of a compelling reason for the name change. If the judge is satisfied as to the truth of the allegations of the petition and there is reasonable cause for changing the name of the petitioner, "the judge shall so order" the change. K.S.A. 60-1402(c).

         2. There is nothing in K.A.R. 44-12-506 that precludes a person from changing his or her name while incarcerated.

          Appeal from Norton District Court; Preston Pratt, judge.

          Beau Lee Clark, appellant pro se.

          No appearance by appellee.

          Before Arnold-Burger, C.J., Bruns and Warner, JJ.

          ARNOLD-BURGER, C.J.

         Beau Lee Clark appeals the district court's denial of his petition to change his name to Beau Lee Northcutt. The court found-based on a Kansas Department of Corrections regulation-that Clark's status as an inmate precluded him from changing his name while incarcerated. But the regulation in question specifically anticipates an inmate changing his or her name while incarcerated, so we must reverse the district court decision denying Clark's petition.

         Factual and Procedural History

         In November 2018, Clark, an inmate incarcerated at the Norton Correctional Facility, petitioned to change his name. He sought to change his name from Beau Lee Clark to Beau Lee Northcutt. Clark explained in an affidavit accompanying the petition that his mother had changed his last name when he was a minor after remarrying and he now wished to re-assume his birth name. As the sole surviving male heir of his birth father's family name, Clark wanted to "carry[] on that legacy" and had plans to obtain similar name changes for his children with his ex-wife.

         The district court set a hearing and ordered Clark to provide notice to several parties of interest under K.S.A. 60-1402(b), including: the Lyon County Attorney's Office, the Lyon County District Court Clerk, and the Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC). Clark sent the required notice by certified mail to all three parties. The Deputy Clerk for Lyon County sent Clark a response letter acknowledging its receipt of the notice and directed Clark to provide copies of "the Order Changing Name, signed by the Honorable Judge Preston A. Pratt" so that the order could "be filed in [Clark's] cases here in Lyon County District Court."

         The district court conducted a telephone conference with Clark. The district court denied the petition, finding:

"6. Petitioner alleges that the Petition for Change of Name is not made for the purpose of avoiding any debts, obligations or legal process nor is it made for the purpose of misleading or defrauding any person; and that the requested name change will not result in prejudice to any person. The Court finds, however, that Petitioner is an inmate of the Norton Correctional Facility. As such he is required by K.A.R. 44-12-506 to continue using and responding to his convicted name until his sentence is fully discharged. Petitioner ...

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