United States District Court, District of Columbia
COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Nathaniel Vincent requests leave to proceed pseudonymously in
a civil case against him for alleged sexual assault and
related claims. Plaintiff Emma Sandberg opposes this motion.
Although the United States Court of Appeals for the District
of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) has not
expressly adopted a test for evaluating such a request,
courts in this Circuit have often applied a five-factor test
in cases involving plaintiffs' motions to proceed under
pseudonyms. The Court finds no reason not to apply this test
to such a motion by Defendant, who nevertheless is unable to
prevail. Upon consideration of the pleadings,  the relevant
legal authorities, and the record as a whole, in an exercise
of the Court's discretion, the Court shall
DENY Defendant's  Motion to Proceed
Court shall draw on the allegations in the  Complaint for
the few factual details pertinent to this motion. During the
summer of 2017, Plaintiff, then a seventeen-year-old rising
high school senior, worked as an intern in the District of
Columbia. Compl., ECF No. 1, ¶¶ 6, 12. Defendant,
then a rising college sophomore, also lived in the District
at the time. Id. ¶ 10. On July 22, 2017,
Plaintiff met Defendant, who had been invited to
Plaintiff's apartment by her roommates. Id.
¶¶ 11, 14. At the end of an evening of drinking
games with other guests, Defendant allegedly pressured
Plaintiff to drink further alcohol and allegedly carried her
to a bedroom in her apartment, where he allegedly engaged in
sexual intercourse with her without her consent. Id.
¶¶ 11, 13, 15, 17, 24-31.
Plaintiff's behalf, her father brought this action
against Defendant, seeking damages for allegations of 1)
sexual assault and battery, and 2) negligence and gross
negligence. Id. ¶¶ 33-41. Plaintiff has
since attained the age of majority and has been substituted
for her father as the real party in interest in this case.
See Min. Order of Aug. 9, 2018.
has sought to proceed in this case under pseudonym, which the
Court instructed the parties to brief. Def.'s Mot.; Min.
Order of May 7, 2018. Upon the conclusion of briefing, the
Court held a teleconference on the record on June 14, 2018,
in order to gather further information pertinent to
Defendant's motion. Min. Order of June 14, 2018. Of note,
Plaintiff's counsel indicated that there is a report
prepared by the District of Columbia Department of Forensic
Sciences that identifies the parties by name. Defendant's
counsel represented that although Defendant was again living
and working as a summer intern in the District of Columbia at
the time of the teleconference, he does not attend college in
it is within the discretion of the district court to grant
the ‘rare dispensation' of anonymity against the
world (but not the plaintiff), even in that situation the
court has ‘a judicial duty to inquire into the
circumstances of particular cases to determine whether the
dispensation is warranted.'” United States v.
Microsoft Corp., 56 F.3d 1448, 1464 (D.C. Cir. 1995)
(quoting James v. Jacobson, 6 F.3d 233, 238 (4th
Cir. 1993)). The D.C. Circuit has indicated that district
courts considering requests for pseudonyms should evaluate
both the likelihood of any unfairness to the non-movant and
the presumption of transparency vis-à-vis the public.
Id. (citing S. Methodist Univ. Ass'n of
Women Law Students v. Wynne & Jaffe, 599 F.2d 707,
713 (5th Cir. 1979); Doe v. Stegall, 653 F.2d 180,
186 (5th Cir. 1981) (“customary and
constitutionally-embedded presumption of openness in judicial
D.C. Circuit's Microsoft ruling made clear, at
the least, “that courts must be prepared to thoroughly
analyze motions that would permit parties to remain anonymous
throughout the course of litigation.” Doe v.
Teti, No. 1:15-mc-01380, 2015 WL 6689862, at *1 n.1
(D.D.C. Oct. 19, 2015) (citing Microsoft Corp., 56
F.3d 1448). In the absence of a detailed standard from the
D.C. Circuit, courts in this Circuit have often deployed the
following test articulated in the Fourth Circuit's
James decision, which the Microsoft Court
had cited approvingly:
 [W]hether the justification asserted by the requesting
party is merely to avoid the annoyance and criticism that may
attend any litigation or is to preserve privacy in a matter
of sensitive and highly personal nature;  whether
identification poses a risk of retaliatory physical or mental
harm to the requesting party or even more critically, to
innocent non-parties;  the ages of the persons whose
privacy interests are sought to be protected;  whether the
action is against a governmental or private party; and,
relatedly,  the risk of unfairness to the opposing party
from allowing an action against it to proceed anonymously.
James, 6 F.3d at 238; see also, e.g.,
Yacovelli v. Moeser, No. 02-596, 2004 WL 1144183, at
*6 (M.D. N.C. May 20, 2004) (quoting James, 6 F.3d
at 238); Nat'l Ass'n of Waterfront Emp'rs v.
Chao, 587 F.Supp.2d 90, 99 (D.D.C. 2008) (citing
Yacovelli, No. 02-596, 2004 WL 1144183, at *6-8);
Roe v. Bernabei & Wachtel PLLC, 85 F.Supp.3d 89,
96 (D.D.C. 2015) (quoting Chao, 587 F.Supp.2d at
99). “No single factor is necessarily determinative; a
court ‘should carefully review all the
circumstances of a given case and then decide whether the
customary practice of disclosing the [movant's] identity
should yield' to the [movant's] request for
anonymity.” Teti, No. 1:15-mc-01380, 2015 WL
6689862, at *2 (quoting Doe v. Frank, 951 F.2d 320,
323 (11th Cir. 1992) (discussing Fifth Circuit's standard
litigation is for the unusual or critical case, and it is the
litigant seeking to proceed under pseudonym that bears the
burden to demonstrate a legitimate basis for proceeding in
that manner.” Qualls v. Rumsfeld, 228 F.R.D.
8, 13 (D.D.C. 2005).
Court shall join others in this Circuit that apply the
five-factor James test. The James factors
reflect the high standard for granting anonymity and account
for the fairness and transparency considerations that the
D.C. Circuit requires. Application of these factors to the
present case shall demonstrate that Defendant has not