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On the Odd Way We Name Special Ed Cases and Why People Hate Lawyers - Part II

Posted Feb 18 2010 2:40pm

Guidelines of Confidentiality Image by Lawrence R.Y. Li via Flickr


In the previous post in this series I discussed the law requiring protection of personally identifiable information concerning kids with disabilities. I stated my opinion that courts do terrible job of naming cases. I ended by trying to start a movement to take all last names out of the case names in special ed law!

I was reminded of this problem during my review of 2009 special ed law cases. (Yes I have nothing better to do!) The names of cases sometimes hide the identity of the child and sometimes not so much. Please see the last post in this series.

Here is the case relating to this topic that reminded me why people don't like lawyers: In CB ex rel EB v. Pittsford Central Sch Dist 53 IDELR 75 (W.D. NY 9/18/9), the parents lawyer did a good job of filing the case so as to protect the identity of the child. The bad part comes next; the attorney for the school district filed a motion to strike the complaint as an "anonymous" pleading. These kinds of things are why people don't like lawyers.

What was the lawyer thinking? Was this serving his client? I understand that lawyers have an ethical obligation to zealously represent their clients, but isn't this pretty clearly over the line? What legitimate purpose could be served by naming the child?

The court denied the motion citing the privacy protections contained in IDEA. No harm done, but really?

Now I realize that there are other reasons why people do not like lawyers, many of them our own fault. But this example really drives the point home I feel.


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