Denying Name-Change Petition Based on Outstanding Warrants Was Proper—C.A.
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Court of Appeal for this district held yesterday that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michelle Williams Court did not abuse her discretion in denying a petition for a name-change based on her perception that the applicant was the subject of outstanding warrants.
“Andre Pierre Harris” is the name on the petitioner/appellant’s birth certificate, Justice John Shepard Wiley Jr. of Div. Eight said in an opinion affirming the Court’s order. Harris wants his name changed to “:Minko: Yona-Gvinge: El-BeyⓇ.”
Appearing in pro per, his brief on appeal, in which he relies on various portions of the Bible, is signed “:andre-pierre: harris-el.”
The court issued a tentative ruling, which, after a hearing, took the form of an order, denying the petition based on an electronic check of law enforcement records, disclosing the warrants. Such a check, Wiley noted, is statutorily authorized to thwart name-changes as a means of ducking sex-offender registration requirements.
Discretion Not Abused
“If this law enforcement check reveals the applicant has outstanding warrants, it is not an abuse of discretion for the trial court to deny the name change until the applicant rectifies the situation. Arrest warrants are written orders, signed by a magistrate, commanding the arrest of named people.… Bench warrants may issue for bailed defendants who do not appear….
“Arrest and bench warrants serve the public interest by bringing people to court who should come to court. Because warrants name the wanted person, a name change could frustrate their function. People wanted by law enforcement should not be able to use the legal system to avoid obligations to the legal system.”
The petitioner noted in his brief that no person appeared to oppose the petition and argued that the judge acted improperly in yielding to efforts by a “third party interloper” in another state who has undertaken efforts to create a false impression as to the existence of outstanding warrants.
“Certainly people can appear to oppose a name change. If no one appears, however, the court is not required to approve the change. The statute does not mandate approval if no one has registered written or oral opposition. The provision about sex offender registration proves this. That provision implicitly authorizes a court, on its own, to deny a name change. Whether other people do or do not raise objections is immaterial.”
Harris protested in his brief:
“There is no evidence that Los Angeles Superior Court for California confirmed and presented any evidence with firsthand knowledge if one here was ever served a warrant based upon probable cause listed in the 4th Amendment. This is (a) surprise. This is (a) mistake. This is mistaken identity.”
“On appeal, we cannot adjudicate a factual question about mistaken identity. The trial court invited Harris to resubmit his name change application. The trial court is the proper forum for initial resolution of Harris’s factual claim.”
The case is In re Harris, 2023 S.O.S. 2979.
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