United States v. Varner, No. 19-40016 (5th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
The Fifth Circuit denied defendant's motion to change the name of his judgment of confinement to "Kathrine Nicole Jett." Plaintiff had previously come out as a transgender woman. The district court denied the motion as meritless.
The court held that defendant's request to change the name on his judgment of commitment was an unauthorized motion which the district court was without jurisdiction to entertain. Therefore, the court vacated the district court's judgment. In this case, defendant's request did not fall into any of the recognized categories of postconviction motions. Furthermore, defendant's request was not authorized under 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(2) because it was not based upon an amendment to the Sentencing Guidelines.
The court also denied defendant's motion to refer to him with female instead of male pronouns. The court held that no authority supported the proposition that the court could require litigants, judges, court personnel, or anyone else to refer to gender-dysphoric litigants with pronouns matching their subjective gender identity; if a court were to compel the use of particular pronouns at the invitation of litigants, it could raise delicate questions about judicial impartiality; and ordering use of a litigant's preferred pronouns may well turn out to be more complex than at first it might appear.