John Doe v. Jane Doe, No. 23-1058 (4th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
John Doe (“Appellant”) filed this civil action alleging claims for defamation, abuse of process, tortious interference with contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and civil conspiracy against Jane Doe (“Appellee”) after Appellee accused Appellant of sexual assault. When Appellant filed his complaint, he also filed an ex parte motion to proceed using the pseudonym “John Doe” rather than his real name. The district court denied the motion.
The Fourth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that in considering the district court’s entire analysis of the James factors, it concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion because it did not rely on incorrect factual or legal premises, nor did it give any indication that it was acting by general rule. Instead, the district court conducted a thorough, case-specific analysis when it exercised its discretion. The court wrote that the district court considered each of Appellant’s arguments, and it carefully balanced Appellant’s stated interests against the public’s interest in the openness of judicial proceedings as required by Public Citizen. It did not abuse its discretion in doing so.