Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, April 27, 2022


Page 1


C.A. Disguises Parties’ Identities That Were Already Revealed in Publicly Filed Opinion


By a MetNews Staff Writer

(News and Analysis)

Div. Two of the First District Court of Appeal, which issued an unpublished opinion on March 29 in the family-law case of Mariia Eroshin v. Vladislav Eroshin, has acceded to a request by the plaintiff/appellant for an order modifying that opinion to refer to the parties by initials, only.

However, the panel, acting on Monday, did not grant the pro per’s expressed wish that the extraordinary action be taken of peer’s sealing the opinion, or at least portions of it that identify the parties, and ordering that the opinion be removed from the Judicial Council’s website.

Mariia Eroshin, a senior portfolio manager, had litigated in her actual name, not initials, from the time she filed a petition for a dissolution of marriage in the San Mateo Superior Court on July 27, 2015. She used that name not only in the appeal that was decided on Monday, but also in a cross-appeal she filed last Aug. 24 and an appeal filed on Feb. 7, both of which are pending in Div. Two.

A new footnote 1 in the March 29 opinion, now designated M.E. v. V.E., reads:

“At appellant’s request, we identify her only by her initials to protect her privacy, and we do the same regarding respondent.”

The opinion by Acting Presiding Justice Therese M. Stewart, in its modified form, does not explain how a party has a privacy interest in a matter that has already been publicly revealed, and does not address the basis of a privacy interest where the matter was made public by virtue of the party’s own action.

Increasingly, of late, courts of appeal have concealed the identities of parties who litigated below and on appeal in their own names, falling back on permissive guidelines promulgated by the Judicial Council spelling out circumstances where according anonymity should be considered (Rule 8.90). However, the alteration of opinions that were already issued, in an effort to conceal identities initially set forth, is something new.

Div. Two of the Fourth District Court of Appeal did so on March 1. It modified a Feb. 22 opinion in the case of Elijah Tirek Hall, a 22-year-old man who committed his crimes at age 15, substituting the initials “E.H.” for his name, although Hall’s actual name had been publicly disclosed by the panel in two previous opinions.

On Feb. 9 of last year, Div. Four of the Court of Appeal for this district modified its Jan. 19 filed opinion in Brandi N. Junious v. Syron D. Butler, II to replace names with initials, but went beyond that, sealing its initial publicly released opinion. The Clerk’s Office has refused to release to this newspaper a copy of the Jan. 19 opinion (despite having accepted a $5 fee for providing such a copy).

Last Nov. 16, the Fifth District Court of Appeal issued two opinions involving Junious and Butler—one with the caption, Junious v. Butler, the other labeled, B.J. v. S.B. On Nov. 19, the court vacated its opinion in Junious v. Butler, reissued it using initials, and had case information (summary, docket, parties and attorneys, etc.) wiped from the Judicial Council website as to both opinions.

Stewart’s opinion in M.E. v. V.E. affirms the denial by San Mateo Superior Court Judge Donald Ayoob of an order renewing a domestic violence restraining order against the ex-husband. In light of findings previously made by Judge Danny Y. Chou, Stewart said, it was not an abuse of discretion for Ayoob to decline to hold an evidentiary hearing.

The justice wrote:

“Based on Judge Chou’s findings of only three instances of abuse, two in 2013 and one in 2015, and the absence of any evidence of abuse acts by V.E. thereafter, the minor nature of the three restraining order violations found by Judge Chou, the facts that the parties  no longer cohabitated and had very little contact, which contact was in public,  Judge Ayoob’s conclusion that M.E.’s fear was not objectively reasonable was  supported by substantial evidence.”

On April 14, Vladislav S Eroshin filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 in the District Court for the Northern District of California. He listed debts to his ex-wife amounting to $452,642.42.


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