Petitioner, a reputed marijuana advocate, operates a medical marijuana dispensary that he claims is lawful under the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. Petitioner also operates a Web site, NJweedman.com, which discusses his efforts to legalize marijuana. Petitioner filed an application to legally change his personal name to the Web site's name, including the ".com." The trial court denied the request, and the petitioner filed an appeal.
First, The court of appeal determined that pursuant to Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 1278, the trial court had the discretion to deny petitioner's request for a name change. The court of appeal stated that petitioner might lose the use of his Web site by failing to make periodic registration payments or by breaching the registration agreement. Because the Web site could be registered to someone else holding future proprietary interests in the Web site name, the court of appeal reasoned that it would result in confusion if petitioner held the same personal name as someone else's Web site.
Second, the court of appeal found that the name change could associate petitioner's new, personal name with the Web site's advice that individuals violate the law. The Web site encourages jury nullification for certain criminal drug charges pending against the petitioner. In addition, the Web site includes instructions for growing marijuana and passing drug tests. The court held that a name change should not have the consequence of encouraging or advising individuals to violate any laws.
Finally, the court of appeal determined that the trial court properly denied the petition as a matter of comity. Specifically, petitioner claimed New Jersey as his home state, and the state of New Jersey previously had denied petitioner's request for the same name change. Therefore, the court of appeal found that the state of California should not grant the petitioner relief that his home state of New Jersey previously had considered and denied. The trial court's judgment was affirmed by the court of appeal.
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