Rape victims can be called “Jane Doe” in court records, appeals court rules


Zochowski Law, PLLC, 100 E. Big Beaver Rd., Ste. 900, Troy, MI 48083

Contact:          Scott Zochowski

Office:            (248) 548-6800

Date:               September 21, 2012

DETROIT, MI – The Michigan Appeals Court has added sexual assault survivors to a limited group of people who can ask to be called “Jane Doe” (or “John Doe”) in public court records.(1)

Why does “Jane Doe” status matter? Studies estimate that 60% of sexual assaults already go unreported in the US.(2) New electronic court databases can easily be searched online by anyone with a computer or smart phone, potentially allowing access to anything filed in a lawsuit. This could include transcripts with graphic descriptions of a sexual assault, medical records of a victim and other sensitive information.

“Having this option to protect your privacy lifts on more barrier against reporting and prosecution of rape,” said Scott Zochowski, a lawyer who made a friend of court argument in the case for a victims’ rights group. The Court considered the social stigma of rape in reaching its decision.


(1) Jane Doe v. Vidal Borromeo and William Beaumont Hospital, Michigan Court of Appeals Case No. 305162 and 305163. Page 10 of unpublished opinion. Opinion released 09/21/2012. http://coa.courts.mi.gov/documents/opinions/final/coa/20120920_c305162_100_305162.opn.pdf

(2) US Department of Justice, National Crime Victimization Survey, 2006-2012.




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