Update: on December 6, 2012, the Supreme Court handed down a merit decision in this case. Read the analysis here.
Read the oral argument analysis of this case here.
Read the oral argument preview of this case here.
Kudos to one of my former students, attorney Ginger Bock for getting this interesting name change case into the Supreme Court of Ohio. The case number is 2011-1979.
David White and Tricia Laug, an unmarried couple, together had a son named Logan. Both parties signed the birth certificate which listed the boy’s name as Logan David White Laug. Logan’s parents lived together for about three years. During that time, and after David left, Logan was always called Logan Laug. His mother and a half-sister also go by the name of “Laug.” After splitting up, the parents worked most things out, except Logan’s last name. When Logan was five, David went to Court and argued for a name change because he was the only one left in his family with the last name of White, and having his son carry his last name would be “huge” to him. The test here is what is in the best interest of the child. Against what looks to me like a whole lot of highly probative evidence favoring keeping the name Logan Laug, (Full disclosure: I have worked some with Ms. Bock on this case) the trial court granted the name change, and the Twelfth District Court of Appeals affirmed.
The Supreme Court of Ohio recently accepted this case, by a vote of 4-3. Interestingly, Justices, Pfeifer, O’Donnell, and Cupp—the three male justices on the Court—all voted not to take the case.
The first proposition of law proposed by Logan’s mother is this “It is improper for a trial court to base a decision involving changing a child’s name on discriminatory tradition and gender-based assumptions.”
It is often said that the genius of the common law is that it changes to meet the needs of changing times. It will be interesting to see how that works with this case.