The Volokh Conspiracy

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Court Depseudonymizes Plaintiff, After Evidence Related to Plaintiff's Past Cases Emerges

“Plaintiff has filed numerous lawsuits, several of which involve circumstances similar to this case. In some she has been permitted to proceed anonymously; in others, she has not. Regardless, Defendant maintains that Plaintiff is a ‘vexatious litigant.’ This goes directly to Plaintiff’s credibility, and Defendant should not be hampered in pursuing that defense.”

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An interesting decision in Doe v. Wang, decided Nov. 8, 2021 by Magistrate Judge Michael Hegarty (D. Colo.), but just unsealed last week in response to a motion (filed by me) to unseal. (Such sealed court orders and opinions are only very rarely allowed, and even if there is confidential information that needs to be kept private, redaction, as below, is seen as a much preferred alternative to outright sealing.) Consistently with the unsealing order, the case is now titled Luo v. Wang.

Luo had originally sued Wang as a Jane Doe, alleging (among other things) that he libeled her by saying that she had falsely accused a mutual friend of rape, and disclosed facts related to that rape. Shortly after the case was filed and before Wang was served, the court let Luo proceed pseudonymously; but a year later, on Wang's motion, the court reconsidered the matter:

[Tenth Circuit] courts look to three, exceptional contexts in which a pseudonym is appropriate: (1) "matters of a highly sensitive and personal nature;" (2) situations involving a "real danger of physical harm;" and (3) cases "where the injury litigated against would be incurred as a result of the disclosure of the plaintiff's identity." In considering these contexts, "[t]he risk that a plaintiff may suffer some embarrassment is not enough." Additionally, the Tenth Circuit has found it "proper to weigh the public interest in determining whether some form of anonymity is warranted."

Defendant has provided two declarations in support of his Motion. The first is from [Redacted], a [Redacted] licensed attorney and counsel of record for the defendants in the lawsuit titled [Redacted], in the [Redacted] of [Redacted]. After reviewing the Third Amended Complaint in this case, the complaint in [Redacted], communications with [Redacted] and Defendant's counsel, and "other research [she has] performed and others have performed at [her] direction as to the various names and aliases for [Redacted] concludes that the plaintiff in the [Redacted] case is the same "Jane Doe" in the [Redacted] case and in this matter. {The Court notes [that] Plaintiff essentially concedes that the cases cited by Defendant involve her. Indeed, the Third Amended Complaint cites to some of them.}

Further, Ms. [Redacted] avers that the [Redacted] case revolves around Plaintiff's "efforts to have a man she had been dating arrested and charged for a sexual assault that allegedly took place in early April 2019." Plaintiff's resulting claim in the [Redacted] case stemmed from the defendants' decision not to prosecute the alleged sexual assault. Disputing that claim, Ms. [Redacted] argues that "messages on plaintiff's phone from late May 2019 confirmed that plaintiff had become angry at the man [accused of rape] for allegedly cheating on her; he accused plaintiff of posting negative information about him on the internet; and when he confronted plaintiff[,] she threatened to take action regarding his job." The court in that case initially denied Plaintiff's request to proceed anonymously, but later granted the request to proceed using her initials. Ms. [Redacted] asserts that although Plaintiff proffered that growing media attention necessitated the need for anonymity, it was Plaintiff who had contacted the media and that this information was not disclosed until her deposition in March 2021.

During the course of that litigation, Ms. [Redacted] learned two relevant pieces of information. First, Plaintiff "had filed at least three other lawsuits against other private individuals and public entities in addition to the matter against [her] clients and the present matter in Colorado." Second, Plaintiff "confirmed to [[Redacted]] that she is a criminal defendant in an Orange County Superior Court case. The victim in that case is another man with whom plaintiff appears to have had a romantic relationship. Based on [her] review of public records related to that case, on July 26, 2021, [Plaintiff] was convicted of three counts (California Penal Code section 594 (a)/(b)(2)(A) Vandalism; California Penal Code section 273.6 (a) Disobeying domestic relations court order; and California Penal Code section 647(j)(4)(A) Disorderly conduct unlawful dissemination of private photographs and recordings)."

The second declaration Defendant provides is from [Redacted], a [Redacted] licensed attorney and counsel of record for the defendant in the [Redacted] case. Ms. [Redacted] declares that the claims against her client stemmed from a relationship between him and Plaintiff between November 2013 and July 2014. According to Ms. [Redacted], "[f]ive years after they broke up, Plaintiff claims she 'learned' that she was raped by [the defendant] during their consensual relationship." In the [Redacted] case, Plaintiff was sanctioned $2,000 for discovery conduct that included failing to propound appropriate discovery and obstructing the meet and confer process….

It is the responsibility of this Court to consider the specific circumstances of this case and weigh whatever privacy interest Plaintiff has against the public's right to know these proceedings. First, the Court finds that Plaintiff does have some privacy interest in this matter. The Third Amended Complaint asserts various claims against Defendant for his alleged disclosure of (and his allegedly false representations about) Plaintiff's sexual assault. Sexual misconduct, including assault, certainly falls under the category of "matters of highly sensitive and personal nature."

But that is not the end of the inquiry. The public has a legitimate interest in knowing the facts of this case and the parties involved…. "[L]awsuits are public events and the public has a legitimate interest in knowing the facts involved in them. Among the facts is the identity of the parties." … Plaintiff has filed numerous lawsuits, several of which involve circumstances similar to this case. In some she has been permitted to proceed anonymously; in others, she has not. Regardless, Defendant maintains that Plaintiff is a "vexatious litigant." This goes directly to Plaintiff's credibility, and Defendant should not be hampered in pursuing that defense…. [A] court may consider "whether proceeding anonymously creates 'a unique threat of fundamental unfairness to the defendant'" …

Nor should the public be prevented from reaching its own conclusions in this case. However, that will not occur, and Defendant will be substantially prejudiced, if he were forced to defend himself publicly while "Plaintiff is permitted to hurl [her] accusations from behind a cloak of anonymity."

Moreover, this is not a case in which "the injury litigated against would be incurred as a result of the disclosure of the plaintiff's identity." Here, the lawsuit is premised entirely on Defendant's alleged disclosure of Plaintiff's assault. In other words, "Plaintiff is not suing in this Court in order to prevent the disclosure of [her] private [matter]; rather, [s]he is suing for compensation for disclosure that has already happened."

Plaintiff argues that forcing the disclosure of her identity subjects her to re-victimization. That is a valid concern in these types of cases. However, this is far from the typical case. While Plaintiff may be a victim of sexual assault, Defendant alleges that he too is a victim of Plaintiff's dissemination of sensitive material. [See the Answer for more details on this, which seemingly involves dissemination of a "private photograph" allegedly "altered" by Plaintiff "to make it look as though Defendant were engaged in lewd acts." -EV] {Again, the Court recognizes that Plaintiff denies doing so.} Additionally, Defendant is not accused of being the one to sexually assault Plaintiff. Put differently, the need to divulge any details about the assault will be minimal, if not nonexistent. The prejudice to Defendant and the nature of the parties' claims and defenses' weigh against whatever threat of re-victimization may occur in this particular case.

The Court has considered the totality of the circumstances in this matter in determining whether to continue to permit Plaintiff to operate under a pseudonym. In this unusual case, the balance of all facts before the Court weighs in favor of disallowing Plaintiff from continuing to proceed under "Jane Doe." …

In doing so, the Court is cognizant that Plaintiff has been permitted to use a pseudonym in some of her other cases. In prohibiting that here, the Court potentially runs afoul of other court orders. Plaintiff argues as much. To prevent this from occurring, the Court pursuant to D.C.Colo.LCivR 7.2 directs the Clerk of the Court to place under [seal] this Order, the Motion filed at ECF 101, the Response filed at ECF 105, and the Reply filed at ECF 109 until further order of the Court….

In granting my motion to unseal the order, the court agreed that its concerns about not undermining the other courts' pseudonymization orders could be satisfied via partial redactions rather than outright sealing. (Note that the other cases are, I think, identifiable in any event with a bit of searching based on filings in this case that have never been sealed, including a filing by the plaintiff herself; but I take it that the court's view is that it should take some modest steps towards making that harder, rather than just publicly identifying the cases pseudonymized by other courts as having been filed by Luo.)

NEXT: Guest Post from Philip Hamburger: Before Judging Vaccines, the Court Should Judge Itself

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  1. And this is why I would say pseudonymization is basically never appropriate for cases between individuals. Barring that, someone who wishes to proceed pseudonymously should be required to submit a list of cases they have ever been involved with as a party, with enough detail that the opposing side will actually be able to locate the relevant records. Serious sanctions should then follow if it turns out that list is incomplete (likely dismissal of the current case with prejudice).

  2. Documents like this would be easier to follow without compromising confidentiality if they employed "Redacted 1", "Redacted 2" and so on.

  3. How does one "learn" that they were raped 5 years after the fact?

    I found it hard to follow how many cases were filed in other courts. I wonder if they found all of them. It's also hard to follow how many different plaintiffs and defendants are involved.

    Finally

    1. Maybe the state where the alleged rape allegedly occurred recognizes deceit as negating consent, and she only learned much later that he was not rich/single/disease free/sterilized/etc. Maybe somebody told her five years later that the defendant made sexual contact while she was unconscious. I'm betting on crazy, though.

    2. "How does one "learn" that they were raped 5 years after the fact?"

      Rule of thumb: If you make something easier people will take advantage of it for nefarious ends. There is no magic talisman that prevents women from using the increased latitude to engage in false accusations of sexual crimes for their own gain. And more and more even the most uneducated coked out women on the street know this.

    3. I recall a case where a woman didn't realize for years that she was being sexually harassed. See the report on the former auditor general of the Navy. https://www.dodig.mil/reports.html/Article/2548233/report-of-investigation-mr-ronnie-j-booth-former-auditor-general-of-the-navy-an/

      At one extreme the man explicitly tried to trade sex for job advancement, which is pretty clear cut. But he also had a girlfriend or mistress who worked in his department and didn't realize for years that their relationship was wrong.

      1. Or maybe if you could carry on for years and only get upset when you were brainwashed by reading a reddit post or attending a corporate empowerment seminar years later into. Maybe it wasn't that big a deal in the first place

        1. Actually, she got upset after she had broken things off and he kept calling her to his office to touch her legs. Sexual impropriety is always a big deal, especially in the military when you're a high-ranking officer promising promotions for sex.

  4. We're having what for dinner?

      1. Its a little difficult to follow what is happening

  5. I inderstand it, if you cancel out all the extra double negative Greek prefixes and subfixes in “depseudonymizes” and translate the rest to English, you end up with “names,” which is the plain old English for the remaining 2 Greek bits, “nym” and “izes.”

    Why not just say that? “Judge names plaintiff.” It works perfectly well. Why all the extra Greek?

    1. Because it doesn't convey the concept that she was permitted to proceed under a pseudonym and then that was revoked.

  6. I'm okay with "depseudonymizes" as a verb, but it needs a hyphen: "de-pseudonymizes."

  7. Another example of how Eugene Volokh takes sadistic pleasure in seeing people's lives be ruined under the guise of "Free Speech."

    https://thenavelobservatory.wordpress.com/2015/11/03/prof-eugene-volokh-is-a-violent-sadist-who-fantasizes-about-torturing-people/

    Eugene Volokh is a sadistic, unethical liar of the highest order.

    He gets paid by Google so that's why he's purposely ignores the pain to victims of online harassment, cyberstalking, and related crimes. He doesn't care because he gets richer if laws are not passed to make Google remove harmful material. But these laws are necessary because otherwise victims have no recourse, and criminals are having a field day online. Eugene helps criminals and lines his own pockets with money.

    People on this forum who support Eugene Volokh are nothing but domestic terrorists who support using "speech" that is part of criminal conduct to justify online harms. America is screwed if people don't have the civility to agree that things like online harassment, cyberstalking, doxing are malicious and illegal. It means the people in this country have totally lost it and have no value of decency whatsoever. Free Speech is being weaponized to hurt the fabric of society and people are drunk on it.

    Eugene Volokh is a sadistic piece of shit for trying to harm the US social fabric and leave victims of heinous online crimes with no recourse.

    If you look through these forums, many others have called out Eugene's hypocritical analysis. The sadistic guy (Volokh) seems to take extreme pleasure in people getting their lives destroyed by harassers online and coming out and defending the harassers while leaving the victims to hang. He takes pleasure when people lose their jobs and livelihoods over doxing. He takes pleasure when plaintiffs cannot file suits using a pseudonym even when they are doing so to protect being re-victimized by the court system. He does not ever talk about how malicious the perpetrators are - they use VPN to hide their own privacy while purposefully, intentionally trying to destroy the lives of innocent victims. He never talks about whether it's fair or not for perpetrators to be able to hide behind "Free Speech" while all the friction to justice in the legal system fall on innocent victims. He never talks about how Section 230 has enabled intermediaries to contribute to the abuse by not removing harmful content in time. He never talks about the suicides that come with cyberharassment and bullying and how victims cannot ever get away from the tormentors. He doesn't give a shit, that's why he's a psychopath that is dangerous for society.

    Most people who take an absolutist view on the 1A have low empathy for people's sufferings, and are obsessed with defending the rights of a bunch of pervs, assholes, psychos, and low-life criminals of society who do not deserve defending and should be punished (fines or jail or both). Bad people deserve to be punished, but Eugene is advocating to punish the good people instead. Eugene Volokh is a grade A sadistic liar and a borderline psychopath based on his behaviour. He enjoys seeing people in pain and then coming out with his BS "Free Speech" arguments to make victims suffer more. You can see it in his eyes, he loves to destroy people using the "Free Speech" shield.

    Eugene Volokh's approach would give victims of malicious targeted online harassment NO legal recourse, even if their lives have been turned upside down by the malicious stalking or harassment from these individuals, and the speech does not implicate public interests and are purely aimed to harm the victims. For Eugene, Free Speech trumps all - deaths, suicides, victims be damned.

    Volokh has been trying his best to strike down all laws that would criminalize malicious online behavior like doxing, cyberstalking, harassment. This guy is grade-A liar and a psychopath who is harmful for society.

    Volokh purposefully ignores talking about the huge impact to the lives of victims of cyberharassers who target these people for years because the harasser has a mental issue. The reality is that Free Speech should be balanced with safety and appropriate privacy for citizens online, otherwise it's been weaponized by sick and sadistic bastards and criminals, and Eugene is fighting hard for these sadistic bastards and criminals to keep harming people.

    Eugene has never given two shits about the victims of cyber-harassment, never in any of his papers does he even consider the unique nature of the internet and the ability for malicious actors to ruin private individuals who are not in the public eye. Eugene Volokh has opposed laws banning doxing, revenge porn, Section 230 reform, etc... anything that would put more legal responsibility on platforms, ISPs, and intermediaries to make their products safer for people and to balance Free Speech with privacy.

    That's what's wrong with the USA today, it's maniacal focus on Free Speech to the extent of allowing social harms is what will destroy this country. All the countries around the world like EU, UK, Hong Kong, Australia, NZ, Canada, Brazil, Argentina are all passing legislation to criminalize doxing, online stalking, online harassment as it should, as these are crimes against human dignity. Is the right to be "free from harassment" not a fundamental right? Eugene doesn't think so. He fights for criminals to continue harming people online. Eugene is a threat to the American public and to the future of the country. He is basically fighting for America to be lawless online. Why should something be legal online when it is illegal offline?

    Volokh is a dishonest liar and sadistic human being with no ethics or morals. He only cares about superficial "speech", with no understanding (or even effort to understand) the fact that the internet has made it possible for anyone to use "speech" to wreak another's life, with or without justification, and many times, purely out of spite. This is why cases of cyberharassment, doxing, cyberstalking, revenge porn, blackmail are going through the roof, yet Eugene doesn't say a word about this. Has Eugene Volokh ever honestly asked himself, is it fair that the OFFENDERS CAN CONVENIENTLY HIDE BEHIND THE EXCUSE OF FREE SPEECH BUT WRECK HAVOC TO THE EMOTIONAL AND PHYSICAL LIVES OF THEIR VICTIMS? Does Eugene give a damn? This is part of the problem. Free Speech should only be free to the extent your rights don't interfere with those of others to live their lives free from your interference. "Your rights end under my nose".

    Yet Eugene doesn't care about the victims, the people who are harmed by malicious, low-value-add free speech that is solely meant to harm and torment private individuals. He wants every single law that would help victims of these crimes get redress to be cut down, so that criminals can run freely on the internet, and maximize the lethality of revealing victim's private information, doxing them, causing them emotional and social upheaval. The real reason Eugene supports this dangerous view is because it enriches Big Tech like Google, which then give kickbacks behind the scenes to Eugene Volokh. Eugene indirectly makes money from the pain and suffering of victims.

    Eugene Volokh is an emotionless being who doesn't weigh both sides of the arguments. For this robotic, emotionless “lawyer”, it's either Free Speech or nothing. His textualist interpretation of the First Amendment doesn't take into account that the Framers likely never even imagined the advent of the Internet, in which case an overly expansive view of the First Amendment can actually cause social harms because there is no barrier to entry, no cost of publishing cheap, harmful, malicious speech. Combined with Google's search engine, this means any malicious actor can type harmful things about someone, with or without justification, and this has a disproportionately large and negative impact on the victims' life, just for the sake of protecting the speaker's "freedom". But no consideration is made to balance the rights of the speaker against the rights of the victims, including the right of the victim to be free from harassment, free from stalking, privacy rights, freedom from intrusion into their lives. These are also Constitutional Rights (4th Amendment and elsewhere) Eugene ignores all of this and still adheres to his sadistic and dangerous view that it's all about the speaker and the rights of the victims be damned, even if they are bullied to suicide.

    How come Eugene has never addressed the fact that cyber-harassment and cyberstalking hurt and suppress the FREE SPEECH rights of victims? Isn't that a violation of the free speech rights of victims? Not surprisingly, Eugene is completely silent on this. That’s because he has an ulterior motive.
    Eugene Volokh's views are dangerous to the social fabric of America.

    The fact that no one on this forum, including himself, can respond to my points in a rational way shows that Eugene himself knows my arguments to be correct. I've exposed him as a biased, partisan, dishonest mouthpiece of Big Tech (especially Google), not dissimilar to other dishonest organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), who wants to strike down consumer protection laws online to enrich themselves at the expense of protecting Americas. Eugene is a dishonest individual with a hidden agenda to enrich Big Tech. He doesn't care about Free Speech at much as you think, what he cares about is making money by peddling dangerous views. If you notice, all of his views are exactly what Google would like to see, and he has written papers directly funded by Google absolving Google of all platform/ISP liability.

    Prove me wrong Eugene. Your sad and pathetic lack of ability to rationally respond to my points suggests you admit them to be true.

    Prolonged cyber-harassment, multiple instances of doxing, prolonged cyberstalking that can be shown to have malicious intent, will be categorized as "courses of conduct", and not "speech", hence will not receive First Amendment protections. They will be prosecuted for the crimes against individuals that they are, and malicious online stalkers who try to stay in the shadows and destroy innocent victims' lives will be locked up and fined, or both.

    If telephone harassment is illegal in states like California (PC 653m), then why the hell is doxing and online harassment NOT illegal and a crime? Makes zero sense.

    What's your view on this Eugene Volokh? Do you just think the world is better off if cyberstalkers are allowed to run amok and damage the fabric of society?

    Stalkers who use the anonymity of the internet to hide in the shadows, hide behind Free Speech, to try to ruin people's lives, are cowards and scum of the earth.

    The people who actively help these scum to hide from the law and hurt their victims without legal recourse are worse than scum.

    Volokh's interpretation of the 1A is borderless sadistic.
    Under Eugene Volokh’s asinine interpretation of the First Amendment, there would be NO such thing as cyberstalking or cyber-harassment! These crimes would simply not exist in his world. Because these actions are performed with words, Eugene would have the 1A apply to anything that involves words (or by extension, pixels). No course of conduct that involves typing words on a screen would be subject to any civil or criminal liability regardless of content, form, or intention. This mean in Eugene’s warped world, revenge porn, doxing, public disclosure of private fact, privacy violations, even swatting would be perfectly legal, and even encouraged!

    Ludicrously, he argues that these malicious acts are actually “valuable” because they provide value to “at least some people.” That’s a BS argument, because anyone can argue that say doxing material provides value to “someone” – yeah, the doxers and the criminals doing the harassment of course! A person’s credit card can be posted and it would provide value to someone, the thieves. A person’s revenge porn pictures can be posted and it would be obviously valuable to countless shady people on the internet. Eugene’s 1A internet speech test is: as long as the information posted is “of value” to someone, that content doesn’t qualify as harassment! This insanely warped logic is beyond asinine that I wonder how Eugene can say this with a straight face. There is no discussion at all from him on the rights of the victims and their constitutional right to be free from malicious harassment (4th Amendment). Eugene Volokh is borderline sadist who just wants to see people’s lives get wrecked and he takes enjoyment in seeing victims suffer.

    No civilized society would just let victims take the brunt of harassment while online criminals can get away by hiding behind a warped definition of the First Amendment. If the constitution says “Congress shall make no law” then maybe the 1A needs a new interpretation in the age of the internet! Because the current approach is leading to very bad social results and instability when people can just say whatever they want online with no liability. Volokh is insane.

    Eugene Volokh is dangerous to the public safety and to America. This guy is harming victims of cybercrimes. He should be arrested and tried for treason.

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