Friday, October 28, 2016

So Much for Your Privacy . . .

Doe v. Superior Court, No. B271508 (D2d1 Sept. 29, 2016)

Last year, California enacted a “revenge porn” law, which provides for a private right of action against someone who without consent distributes naked or sexual images that were obtained under conditions where the subject of the images had a reasonable expectation that they would remain private. See Civ. Code § 1708.85. The statue permits the plaintiff to file anonymously, and requires the court to “keep the plaintiff’s name and excluded or redacted characteristics confidential.” Id. § 1708.85(f). Plaintiff availed himself of that process, filing along with his complaint a judicial council form that included his real name and info for the court’s use. That form too is supposed to be kept confidential by the court.

But it wasn’t. Somehow, LA Superior Court posted it, unredacted, to its online docket. The trial court—deciding that the cat was out of the bag—then proceeded to rule that from that point on, Plaintiff needed to litigate under his true name. Plaintiff took a writ, which the Court of Appeal grants.

Code of Civil Procedure § 367 requires the prosecution of an action in the name of the real party in interest, unless a statute provides otherwise. Section 1708.85(f) does, in fact, provide otherwise. The court’s posting of the form was not the fault of plaintiff, and thus it would be inequitable to find that the court’s own mistake somehow waived Plaintiff’s right to proceed anonymously. Indeed, the Court’s order—requiring public filing—would just compound the harm to the Plaintiff.

Writ granted.

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