The Case of Archie Outlaw

People v. Outlaw, 404 N.Y.S.2d 613 (App. Div. 1978)

The following is the full text of a New York Times article by Sheila Rule and Robert McG. Thomas Jr. It appeared on page B4 of the December 10, 1981, issue.

The People of New York v. _____

A good name is rather to be chosen than, well, the one Archie Outlaw has.

That is the view of Mr. Outlaw, who has petitioned for a temporary name change on the ground [sic] that his own name would ''prejudice me in the eyes of the jury'' when he goes on trial on a charge of selling heroin.

''Through no fault of my own,'' he said in papers filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, ''I was given the last name Outlaw at birth almost 34 years ago.''

Mr. Outlaw said he would accept a name such as Reggie Jackson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Andrew Young, Archie Law, Archie Law-abiding, Sterling Johnson Jr. (the name of the city's special narcotics prosecutor), or Robert M. Haft, the acting Supreme Court justice, who will rule on the petition.

In opposing the motion, Ronald M. Neumann, an assistant district attorney, argued on Tuesday that cases against such defendants as Bruce Bimbo, Anthony Oddman, Anthony Savage, Rogers Crabb and even one Bernard J. Outlaw had all ''passed through the criminal justice system without apparent prejudice.''

If the judge does grant the petition, Mr. Neumann said, ''I want to change my name to Learned Hand,'' the famous judge.

[The court allowed Outlaw to use the alias “Archie Simmons,” but he pled guilty before the case went to trial.]