“Jane Doe” Identity May Be Revealed - The Missourian: County

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“Jane Doe” Identity May Be Revealed

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Posted: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 5:32 pm | Updated: 8:52 am, Thu Jan 31, 2013.

An anonymous plaintiff in a lawsuit against the county will be revealed if depositions for the case are taken, County Counselor Mark Vincent said.

As of this week, depositions have not been scheduled.

The plaintiff, who is known only as Jane Doe, is suing the county over prayers that she said violated the U.S. Constitution.

She is being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Vincent said the county has no desire or interest to protect Jane Doe’s name.

The lawsuit alleges that Presiding County Commissioner John Griesheimer led prayers that mentioned “Lord” and “Jesus” at county commission meetings.

The Alliance Defense Fund, which is representing the county for no charge in the case, would take Jane Doe’s deposition, while the attorney for the ACLU would take Griesheimer’s.

The actual depositions would not be open to the public, but Jane Doe’s name would be available afterward, Vincent said.

Griesheimer questioned why the plaintiff has never come forward publicly to say that she was offended by the prayers.

“If she was harmed by so much, why is she remaining in the background?” he asked.

He added, “Obviously, she can’t stay in the closet forever. If she’s claiming that she was harmed at a meeting, we don’t have any idea who it was.”

If the case is settled prior to depositions, then the plaintiff’s identity may never be known, Griesheimer said.

After the ACLU filed the lawsuit, the county commission adopted a new invocation policy for meetings. The policy states that the commission “wishes to express its respect for the diversity of religious practice and belief in the county.”

Vincent maintains that the county did nothing illegal.

The new policy allows volunteers to sign up to present the invocation at the meeting, and no questions will be asked about religious preference.

The plaintiff is currently seeking damages of $1 for deprivation of constitutional rights, attorneys fees and other relief deemed appropriate by the court.

The case is filed in U.S. District Court in St. Louis.

The ACLU’s attorney, Anthony Rothert, said this week that he had nothing new to say about the lawsuit at this time.

Rothert has said the next step is for the court to decide whether the case should be dismissed or if a ruling should be made in favor of the ACLU. If the court is unable to decide, a trial would be set for Aug. 19, Rothert has said.

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