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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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.

Citations:

(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 Page 10 of unpublished opinion.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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