Author narrows bill that allowed plaintiffs in civil cases to proceed anonymously; gets committee nod

Earlier this week, the author of a measure that would have allowed plaintiffs in any civil matter to presumptively pursue their claim anonymously unless the defendant objected, agreed to significantly narrow the bill to apply to only guardian ad litem actions.

Sponsored by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), AB 2185 by Assembly member David Chiu (D-San Francisco) would have required the court hearing the case to shield from public disclosure the plaintiff’s name in all proceedings and records.

Assemblyman Chiu announced his intent to amend the bill on Tuesday, shortly before the Senate Judiciary Committee was slated to vote on it. Opposed by CNPA and the California Judges Association, AB 2185 faced an uphill battle getting approval from the committee in its introduced form. Once amended, the committee approved the bill on a 5-2 vote.

The bill’s opponents have not yet seen the proposed language. Assemblyman Chiu told the committee he would work with all stakeholders to address the concerns that were raised.

Guardian ad litem actions occur when a person involved in a suit cannot adequately represent his or her own interests. Generally, courts appoint guardians ad litem to represent legal infants and adults who are actually or allegedly incapacitated. Courts most frequently appoint guardians ad litem in parents’ disputes over custody of their children.

AB 2185 will next be heard on the Senate floor sometime after the legislature returns from its summer recess on August 6.