Karnoski et al v. Trump et al

Filing 62

ORDER granting Plaintiff Jane Doe's 31 Motion to Proceed under Pseudonym, signed by Judge Marsha J. Pechman. (SWT)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT SEATTLE 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 RYAN KARNOSKI, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Case No. C17-01297MJP ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF JANE DOE’S MOTION TO PROCEED UNDER PSEUDONYM DONALD J. TRUMP, et al., Defendants. 17 This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Jane Doe’s (“Jane Doe”) Motion to Proceed 18 under Pseudonym. Dkt. #31. Jane Doe, a transgender woman, is one of twelve plaintiffs 19 20 challenging the constitutionality of Defendants’ decision to reverse a Department of Defense 21 policy that allowed transgender people to serve openly in the military. See Dkt. #30 ¶¶ 121–129. 22 Although she currently serves in the military, Jane Doe has not transitioned to living openly as a 23 woman, and it is not generally known to her fellow service members—or the community at 24 25 large—that she is transgender. Dkt. #31 at 1, 3. Given Defendants’ reversal of the Department 26 of Defense’s prior policy on transgender military service, Jane Doe fears she will be separated 27 from the military if her identifying information is disclosed. Id. at 3. Jane Doe’s motion is 28 ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO PROCEED UNDER PSEUDONYM - 1 1 unopposed by Defendants. For the reasons discussed herein, the Court GRANTS Jane Doe’s 2 motion. 3 4 Parties may proceed under a pseudonym “in special circumstances when the party's need for anonymity outweighs prejudice to the opposing party and the public's interest in knowing the 5 6 party's identity.” Does I thru XXIII v. Advanced Textile Corp., 214 F.3d 1058 (9th Cir. 2000). 7 Additionally, where a pseudonym is used to protect a party from retaliation, courts must consider 8 the following: (1) the severity of the harm threatened; (2) the reasonableness of the anonymous 9 party’s fears; (3) the anonymous party’s vulnerability to retaliation; (4) the prejudice to the 10 11 12 opposing party; and (4) whether the public interest “would be best served by requiring that the litigants reveal their identities.” Id. at 1068–69 (internal citations omitted). 13 Jane Doe’s need for anonymity outweighs any prejudice to Defendants or the public’s 14 interest in knowing her identity. Here, the severity of harm threatened by Jane Doe disclosing 15 her identity is severe. Given Defendants’ decision to ban transgender people from military 16 17 service, requiring Jane Doe to disclose her identity could lead to her separation from the military; 18 the loss of her military career would also mean the loss of her career benefits. See Dkt. #31 at 3. 19 Considering Defendants’ ban, Jane Doe’s fears are reasonable, and she is uniquely vulnerable to 20 harm because she has not disclosed her transgender status to her chain of command. See Id. 21 Additionally, since Jane Doe’s identity has little bearing on Defendants’ ability to address the 22 23 legal issues raised, allowing Jane Doe to proceed anonymously will not prejudice Defendants. 24 Finally, the Court agrees that forcing Jane Doe to reveal her identity might “function to limit 25 access to the courts for any citizen with a legitimate fear of retaliation by the government.” Id. 26 at 4. Consequently, the Court finds the public interest weighs in favor of allowing Jane Doe to 27 28 proceed anonymously. ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO PROCEED UNDER PSEUDONYM - 2 1 Because the factors the Court must consider weigh in favor of allowing Jane Doe to 2 proceed anonymously, and having reviewed the relevant briefing and the remainder of the record, 3 the Court hereby GRANTS Jane Doe’s Motion to Proceed under Pseudonym (Dkt. #31). 4 5 6 DATED this _10th__ day of October, 2017. 7 8 9 10 11 12 A Marsha J. Pechman United States District Judge 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO PROCEED UNDER PSEUDONYM - 3

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