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XOXO asked in Social ScienceAnthropology · 9 years ago

Why are unidentified dead bodies called John Doe and Jane Doe?

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  • 9 years ago
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    The name "John Doe" is used as a placeholder name in a legal action, case or discussion for a male party, whose true identity is unknown or must be withheld for legal reasons. The name is also used to refer to a male corpse or hospital patient whose identity is unknown. This practice is widely used in the United States and Canada, but is rare in other English-speaking countries (including the United Kingdom itself, from where its use in a legal context originates – see Origin below). The name Joe Bloggs is used in the U.K instead, as well as in Australia and New Zealand.

    The name "John Doe", often spelled "Doo," along with "Richard Roe" or "Roo" were regularly invoked in English legal instruments to satisfy technical requirements governing standing and jurisdiction, beginning perhaps as early as the reign of England's King Edward III (1312–1377).[4]

    Other obsolete fictitious names for a person involved in litigation under English law were John-a-Noakes, or John Noakes/Nokes and John-a-Stiles/John Stiles.[5]

    The Oxford English Dictionary states that John Doe is "the name given to the fictitious lessee of the plaintiff, in the (now obsolete in the UK) mixed action of ejectment, the fictitious defendant being called Richard Roe".

    This particular use became obsolete in the UK in 1852:

    As is well known, the device of involving real people as notional lessees and ejectors was used to enable freeholders to sue the real ejectors. These were then replaced by the fictional characters John Doe and Richard Roe. Eventually the medieval remedies were (mostly) abolished by the Real Property Limitation Act of 1833; the fictional characters of John Doe and Richard Roe by the Common Law Procedure Act 1852; and the forms of action themselves by the Judicature Acts 1873-75."

    Secretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Respondent) v Meier and another(FC) (Appellant) and others and another (FC)(Appellant) and another (2009).[6]

    The term 'John Doe Injunction' (or John Doe Order)[7] is used in the UK to describe an injunction sought against someone whose identity is not known at the time it is issued:

    "8.02 If an unknown person has possession of the confidential personal information and is threatening to disclose it, a 'John Doe' injunction may be sought against that person. This form of injunction was used for the first time since 1852 in the United Kingdom when lawyers acting for JK Rowling and her publishers obtained an interim order against an unidentified person who had offered to sell chapters of a stolen copy of an unpublished Harry Potter novel to the media".[8]

    Unlike in the United States the name (John) Doe does not actually appear in the formal name of the case, for example: X & Y v Persons Unknown [2007] HRLR 4.[9]

    [edit] Court cases

    The landmark 1973 United States Supreme Court abortion case Roe v. Wade gets half of its name from Jane Roe, an anonymous plaintiff later revealed to be Norma McCorvey.

    A Toronto woman, publicly known only as Jane Doe, waged an 11-year court battle against the Toronto Police Service after being raped in 1986, alleging that the police had used her as bait to catch the Balcony Rapist. She won the case in 1998, and was named Chatelaine's Woman of the Year that year.[10] She published a book about her experience, The Story of Jane Doe, in 2003.

    A Doe subpoena is a tool of discovery that a plaintiff may use to seek the identity of an unknown defendant. Doe subpoenas are often served on online service providers and ISPs to obtain the identity of the author of an anonymous post.[11]

    Serial killer Richard Laurence Marquette confessed to the murder of an unknown woman identified only as Jane Doe.

    Source(s): wikipedia
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    4 years ago

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