Just in time for Christmas, Snaphappy Fishsuit Mokiligon got a gift from the state Court of Appeals: a name change. The Albuquerque resident’s new name will be Variable.
The appeals court ruled this week that a state district judge in Bernalillo County didn’t provide sufficient reason for denying Mokiligon’s name change application.
The three-judge panel issued a formal opinion in order to clarify the standards that district courts must use in such cases.
While some states require petitioners to show good reasons for name changes, New Mexico doesn’t, the court said.
That means it’s up to the court or a third party to come up with objections that override a petitioner’s right to a name change.
Typically, those can include an unworthy motive, the possibility of fraud, or a name “that is bizarre, unduly lengthy, ridiculous or offensive to common decency and good taste,” said the appeals court, citing a Colorado ruling that there must be a substantial reason to deny the petition.
In Mokiligon’s case, state District Judge Linda Vanzi found that the name change “is offensive to even the broadest accepted notions of common decency and good sense, and is otherwise contrary to the public good,” according to the opinion.
But the district court never held a hearing — Mokiligon was told by mail he was denied — and didn’t provide factual support for its decision, the appeals court said.
“Thus, there appears to have been no showing of wrongful or fraudulent purpose, and the name ‘Variable’ does not appear obviously offensive,” Judge A. Joseph Alarid wrote.