There has been a resurgence of threads and posts claiming that, for legal purposes, you are a different person depending on how your name is
capitalized. This "fact" can get you out of paying taxes, answering court summons, and will make you independent of all laws. This "news" pops
up here every three to six months, and I guess it's time again.
The claim is that if your name is in all capital letters, you either lose your rights or are an entirely different person. You will see the Latin
phrase "Capitas deminutio (minima, media, or maxima)" translated to mean "having your rights diminished (a little, some, or completely) by
capitalization." Excuse me for a moment while I pound the wall. Ok, I'm better, let's look at it.
First, the translation is wrong.
"Capitis deminutio is the destruction of the 'caput' or legal personality. Capitis deminutio, so to speak, wipes out the former individual and
puts a new one in his place, and between the old and the new individual there is, legally speaking, nothing in common.
A juristic personality may be thus destroyed in one of three ways: (1) by loss of the status libertatis. This is the capitis deminutio maxima; (2) by
loss of the status civitatis. This is the capitis deminutio media (magna); (3) by severance from the agnatic family. This entails capitis deminutio
Rudolph Sohm, The Institutes: A Textbook of the History and System of Roman Private Law 178-79 (James Crawford Ledlie trans. , 3d ed. 1907) [quoted in
Black's Law Dictionary, 7th ed.]
Basically these are three levels of punishment inflicted on the law breaker and has nothing to do with capital
But how can you be so sure, Charles? Because the Romans didn't have lower case letters combined with capitals until the 8th Century.
In the Antiquity the small letter (minuscule) did not exist, but there were several varieties of the capital and the cursive scripts. There were
three varieties of the capitals:
• the lapidary capitals, used mainly on stone monuments;
• the elegant book capitals, that were of a more rounded shape;
• and the rustic capitals, which were less carefully elaborated than the lapidary script and not as round as the book capitals but more easily and
quickly written. . . .At the end of the 8th century the Carolingian (Caroline) hand developed and, after becoming the official script and literary
hand of the Frankish Empire, developed as the main book hand of Western Europe in the following two centuries. The combination of the capital and
small letters is attributed mainly to the Carolingian script.
And in a definition of "capital letter" we find:
The form of an alphabetical letter (such as A, B, C) used to begin a sentence or proper noun; an uppercase letter, in contrast to lower case. Verb:
In classical Greek and Latin writing, only capital letters (also called majuscules) were used.
Is that all you've got? No. Probably the most important argument is that it just doesn't work
1. Jaeger v. Dubuque County, 880 F.Supp. 640 (N.D.Iowa 1995)
2. United States v. Heard, 952 F.Supp. 329 (N.D.W.Va. 1996)
3. Boyce v. C.I.R., 72 T.C.M. ¶ 1996-439 ("an objection to the spelling of petitioners' names in capital letters because they are not 'fictitious
entities'" was rejected)
4. United States v. Washington, 947 F.Supp. 87, 92 (S.D.N.Y. 1996)("Finally, the defendant contends that the Indictment must be dismissed because
'Kurt Washington,' spelled out in capital letters, is a fictitious name used by the Government to tax him improperly as a business, and that the
correct spelling and presentation of his name is 'Kurt Washington.' This contention is baseless")
5. United States v. Klimek, 952 F.Supp. 1100 (E.D.Pa. 1997)
6. In re Gdowik, 228 B.R. 481, 482 (S.D.Fla. 1997)(claim that "the use of his name JOHN E GDOWIK is an 'illegal misnomer' and use of said name
violates the right to his lawful status" was rejected)
7. Russell v. United States, 969 F.Supp. 24, 25 (W.D. Mich. 1997)("Petitioner * * * claims because his name is in all capital letters on the summons,
he is not subject to the summons"; this argument held frivolous)
8. United States v. Lindbloom, 97-2 U.S.T.C. ¶ 50650 (W.D. Wash. 1997)("In this submission, Mr. Lindbloom states that he and his wife are not
proper defendants to this action because their names are not spelled with all capital letters as indicated in the civil caption." The CAPS argument
and the "refused for fraud" contention were rejected)
9. Rosenheck & Co., Inc. v. United States, 79 A.F.T.R.2d (RIA) 2715 (N.D. Ok. 1997)("Kostich has made the disingenuous argument the IRS documents at
issue here fail to properly identify him as the taxpayer. Defendant Kostich contends his ‘Christian name' is Walter Edward, Kostich, Junior and
since the IRS documents do not contain his ‘Christian name,' he is not the person named in the Notice of Levy. The Court expressly finds Defendant
WALTER EDWARD KOSTICH JR. is the person identified in the Notice of Levy, irrespective of the commas, capitalization of letters, or other alleged
irregularities Kostich identifies as improper. Similarly, the Court's finding applies to the filed pleadings in this matter")
10. United States v. Weatherley, 12 F.Supp.2d 469 (E.D.Pa. 1998)
11. United States v. Frech, 149 F.3d 1192 (10th Cir. 1998)("Defendants' assertion that the capitalization of their names in court documents
constitutes constructive fraud, thereby depriving the district court of jurisdiction and venue, is without any basis in law or fact").
These cases all reject the position that the capitalization or punctuation of a name has any legal effect. SO DON'T TRY IT. Better still, don't
listen to anyone that tells you it does matter, unless they can show you court decisions that set aside these.
You'll hear people claim that it worked for their aunt, or that they've got rid of the IRS somehow, but don't believe any of it until you can see
published evidence. All of those cited cases are from the last twenty years. Ignore someone who says "But look at this case, decided in 1813."
Certainly, people have a 1st Amendment right to say any darn fool thing they want. (Although, people who have sold this program went to jail for
fraud, etc.) But, people also have a 5th Amendment right to keep their mouths shut and not look like idiots.