Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

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Only the Names have been Changed to Protect the Innocent.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | February 25, 2011

No. 586

Today, Adrian Baron tells the story in his blog, Nutmeg Lawyer, about the client who wanted to change his name to Darth Vader. [I’ll give you the link at the end of this post — you are not permitted to run off until I am finished.]

Every Pittsburgh lawyer has been approached by people with too-ethnic, unpronounceable or slightly ribald names who, after much angst, decide to select a new one.  Usually, they select an anglican equivalent to their foreign language surname.  Some change their first names, too.  Fact is, they are only trying to fit in.

Times change.  One member of the older generation in the Musmanno clan changed his name to Mussman.  Then his son, Superior Court Judge John Mussmano, changed it back.  He explained it as a resurgence of ethnic pride, as exemplified by his almost-famous uncle, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael Angelo Musmanno.

I wish I had changed my name long ago.  But now it is too late.  My mother told me that she had considered naming me after her favorite baseball pitcher, Lew Burdette of the Boston Braves.  In the end, they opted for the very conventional choice of naming me after my father.  While not complaining, I made it clear to everyone from about age seven, that I clearly should have been named Benjamin Franklin Tuttle. I even lobbied hard for that name choice for a sibling, but alas, there would be only sisters.

If only I had had the guts to formally change my name back then.  And what a great name it would have been! But now, alas, after a lifetime of networking under my current name, a name change at this late date would be the source of endless confusion. Or perhaps endless mirth and merriment.  I would also have to find another wife.  She hates it.  And my parents — they would probably never understand. Come to think of it, the only person in my family who is likely prefer my new name would be me. Oh, well.

From time to time I think about a man I knew at my first summer job as a teenager.  He seemed to know that I would become a lawyer long before I did.  He told me that he wanted to be my first client.  His perfectly good German name translated into a body part in English and he ardently wanted to change it.  He told me he would pay $100.00 as my fee.  He’s gone now and I never got him that name change. Why do I feel so guilty about that?

So, as an act of atonement, if there are any readers of this blog who have yearned for a new and better name, send me a message in the contact box in the right-hand column and I will help you achieve that dream.  No, not for the unbelievably low fee of $100.00, but — for a limited time only — for the low, low fee of zero. You pay the title searcher and the advertising and court costs.  Allegheny County residents only, please.

But I should warn you: The courts take a dim view of  people changing their names to avoid creditors or get off child molester lists.

Now go read about how the Nutmeg Lawyer meets Darth Vader.



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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