BY THE COURT
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).
There is nothing in K.A.R. 44-12-506 that precludes a person
from changing his or her name while incarcerated.
from Norton District Court; Preston Pratt, judge.
Lee Clark, appellant pro se.
appearance by appellee.
Arnold-Burger, C.J., Bruns and Warner, JJ.
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.
and Procedural History
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.
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."
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.