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In re Cortez

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division

December 3, 2019

In the MATTER OF: Valeria CORTEZ, Applicant/Appellant.

Page 814

          Appeal from the Superior Court in Yuma County; No. S1400CV201900124; The Honorable Lawrence C. Kenworthy, Judge. REVERSED AND REMANDED

         ACLU Foundation of Arizona, Phoenix, By Molly Patricia Brizgys, Co-Counsel for Appellant

          Southern Arizona Gender Alliance, Inc., Tucson, By Abigail Jensen Co-Counsel for Appellant

         Judge David D. Weinzweig delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Presiding Judge Randall M. Howe and Judge Maurice Portley[1] joined.

          OPINION

         WEINZWEIG, Judge:

         [¶1] This case requires us to decide whether an applicant must show good cause to change names under A.R.S. � 12-601. The superior court here summarily denied— with prejudice— Valeria Cortez’s application to change names for lack of good cause. We reverse and remand because good cause is not required under the statute.

          FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         [¶2] Cortez completed, signed and filed an Application for Change of Name for an Adult in the Yuma County Superior Court, wanting to change his name from "Valeria Stephany Cortez" to "Sebastian Tomas Valentine." Yuma County supplied the four-page form.

         [¶3] The form directed Cortez to provide his current name, requested name and other names he has used. By marking five boxes on the form, Cortez swore "[u]nder penalty of perjury" that he (1) wanted a name change "solely for [his] benefit and in [his] best interests," (2) understood the name change would "not release [him] from any obligations incurred or harm any rights of property or action in any previous name," (3) did not request the name change "for the purpose of committing or furthering any offense of theft, forgery, fraud, perjury, organized crime or terrorism or any other offense involving false statements," (4) had never been convicted of a felony, and (5) faced no pending criminal charges. Beyond that, the form asked Cortez to explain why he "request[ed] this name change." His hand-written answer explained: "I am transitioning and want my documents to match my identity."

         [¶4] Six days later, the superior court denied Cortez’s application "with prejudice" for "fail[ure] to show good cause." The court

Page 815

held no hearing and supplied no explanation. Cortez timely appealed. We have jurisdiction pursuant to A.R.S. � � ...


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