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Nebraska Petitioner Seek Name Change Cannot Proceed In Forma Pauperis

The Nebraska Court of Appeals held a petitioner seeking a name change may not proceed in forma pauperis.

Nebraska prisoner Douglas David Pattengall filed a petition for mane change, seeking to “cast off the last vestiges of Christianity and fully identify with his ethnic ancestry, as well as a matter of faith.”

The district court denied his motion to proceed in forma pauperis, finding the “petition asserted reasons that were frivolous and meritless.”  Pattengall appealed.

The Appellate Court found Pattengall’s petition pled all the statutory elements to seek a name change.  It, however, agreed with the position of the state, who filed an amicus curiae brief.

That brief cited Neb.Rev.Stat. § 25-21, 273 which states, “All proceedings under sections §25-21, 27 to 25-21, 272  shall be at the cost of the petitioner or petitioners, for which fee-bill or execution may issue as in civil cases.”  Petitions for a mane change fall under §25-21, 271.

While the informa pauperis statute conflicts with §25-21, 273, the “general rule regarding in forma pauperis status yields to this more specific provision.”  The Appellate Court affirm the district court’s order because it reached the correct result but for the wrong reason.  See:  In RE: Change of Name of Pattengall, _Neb_,_N.W. 2d_ (2015).

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