Doe v Kansas State University
ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE. No later than October 1, 2020, Plaintiff must show cause to the undersigned Magistrate Judge why his full name should not be fully disclosed in filings with the court. Signed by Magistrate Judge Teresa J. James on 9/9/2020. Mailed to pro se party John Doe by regular and certified mail; Certified Tracking Number: 7019 0160 00002 4573 6375. (ts)
Case 2:20-cv-02258-JWB-TJJ Document 20 Filed 09/09/20 Page 1 of 2
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF KANSAS
KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY,
Case No. 20-cv-2258-JWB-TJJ
NOTICE AND ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE
TO THE PLAINTIFF:
On May 23, 2020, Plaintiff filed a complaint under the pseudonym John Doe. Proceeding
anonymously is not contemplated by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rather, Rule 10(a)
requires that the title of a complaint “name all the parties,” and Rule 17(a) prescribes that “[a]n
action must be prosecuted in the name of the real party in interest.”
However, the Tenth Circuit has recognized there may be cases in which “exceptional
circumstances” warrant permitting a party to proceed anonymously.1 Adopting the standard of
the Eleventh Circuit, the Tenth Circuit has ruled as follows:
Lawsuits are public events. A plaintiff should be permitted to proceed
anonymously only in exceptional cases involving matters of a 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.2
Femedeer v. Haun, 227 F.3d 1244, 1246 (10th Cir. 2000) (quoting M.M. v. Zavaras, 139 F.3d
798, 800 (10th Cir. 1998)).
Id. (quoting Doe v. Frank, 951 F.2d 320, 324 (11th Cir. 1992)).
Case 2:20-cv-02258-JWB-TJJ Document 20 Filed 09/09/20 Page 2 of 2
Whether a plaintiff may proceed anonymously is subject to the discretion of the trial
court.3 In exercising that discretion, the court must “weigh the plaintiff’s claimed right to
privacy against the countervailing public interest.”4 The public has an “important interest in
access to legal proceedings.”5 Moreover, without a party’s name in the public record, “it is
difficult to apply legal principles of res judicata and collateral estoppel.”6 Ordinarily, those who
use the courts must be prepared to accept the public scrutiny that is inherent in public trials.7 “A
plaintiff should not be permitted to proceed under a pseudonym unless the need for anonymity
outweighs the public interest in favor of openness.”8
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that by October 1, 2020, Plaintiff must show cause to
the undersigned Magistrate Judge why his full name should not be fully disclosed in filings with
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated this 9th day of September, 2020 in Kansas City, Kansas.
Teresa J. James
U. S. Magistrate Judge
Zavaras, 139 F.3d at 802.
Id. at 803.
Femedeer, 227 F.3d at 1246.
Raiser v. Brigham Young Univ., 127 F. App’x 409, 411 (10th Cir. 2005). See also S.E.S. v.
Galena Unified Sch. Dist. No. 499, No. 18-2042-DDC, 2018 WL 3389878, at *3 (D. Kan. July
12, 2018) (holding the adult plaintiff had demonstrated exceptional circumstances in which the
need for anonymity outweighed the public interest in having access to the identity of the minor
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