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John Doe

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Submitted By lilironman10
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John Doe is sometimes used to refer to a typical male in other contexts as well, in a similar manner to John Q. Public in the United States or Joe Public, John Smith or Joe Bloggs in Britain. For example, the first name listed on a form might be John Doe, along with a fictional address or other fictional information to provide an example of how to fill in the form. The name is also used frequently in US popular culture, for example in the Frank Capra film Meet John Doe. John Doe was also the name of a 2002 American television series.

Similarly, a child or baby whose identity is unknown may be referred to as Baby Doe. A notorious murder case in Kansas City, Missouri, referred to the baby victim as Precious Doe.[3] Other unidentified female murder victims have also been nicknamed by the public or investigators as "Cali Doe" and "Princess Doe". Additional persons may be called James Doe, Judy Doe, etc. However, to avoid possible confusion, if two anonymous or unknown parties are cited in a specific case or action, the surnames Doe and Roe may be used simultaneously; for example, "John Doe v. Jane Roe". If several anonymous parties are referenced, they may simply be labelled John Doe #1, John Doe #2, etc. (the U.S. Operation Delego cited 21 (numbered) "John Doe"s) or labelled with other variants of Doe / Roe / Poe / etc. Other early alternatives such as John Stiles and Richard Miles are now rarely used, and Mary Major has been used in some American federal cases.[4]

The Doe names are also used for anonymous or unknown defendants. Another set of names used for anonymous parties, particularly plaintiffs, are Richard Roe for men and Jane Roe for women (as in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court abortion decision Roe v. Wade).

Bearing the actual name John Doe can cause difficulty, such as being stopped by airport security or suspected of being an incognito celebrity.[5]

The term is sometimes used in lawsuits in Ireland and the United States; see, for example McKeogh v. John Doe[6] and Uber Technologies, Inc. v. Doe I.[7]

The term John Doe or Jane Doe is used in US police investigations when the victim(s) identity is unknown or incorrect.


The name "John Doe", often spelled "Doo," along with "Richard Roe" or "Roo" were regularly invoked in English legal instruments to satisfy technical requirements governing standing and jurisdiction, beginning perhaps as early as the reign of England's King Edward III (1312–1377).[8]

Other fictitious names for a person involved in litigation under English law were John-a-Noakes, or John Noakes/Nokes and John-a-Stiles/John Stiles.[9]

The Oxford English Dictionary states that John Doe is "the name given to the fictitious lessee of the plaintiff, in the (now obsolete in the UK) mixed action of ejectment, the fictitious defendant being called Richard Roe".

This usage is mocked in the 1834 English song "John Doe and Richard Roe":

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