Monday, 25 June, 2018

Winner Of $560M Powerball Jackpot Can Stay Anonymous, Judge Says

Judge Charles Temple listens to attorney Steven M. Gordon who represents lottery winner Winner of $560M Powerball jackpot can stay anonymous, US state judge rules
Ellis Copeland | 13 March, 2018, 11:52

A New Hampshire judge has ruled in favor of "Jane Doe", the victor of the $560 million Powerball jackpot, in her request to remain anonymous.

Judge Charles Temple ruled that disclosing the woman's name would be an invasion of privacy and allowed her to be exempt from a state law which requires the release of a winner's name and hometown.

Temple wrote that Doe has a compelling privacy interest in keeping her name secret.

"The Court therefore has no difficulty finding that [the woman] would also be subject to similar solicitation and harassment if her identity were disclosed", Temple wrote.

The New Hampshire Lottery Commission said in a statement it is determining how to respond to the judge's decision that went against its recommendation to name the victor.

"Given that any female person in Ms. Doe's hometown could potentially be the victor, it is highly unlikely that Ms. Doe could be identified as the victor based exclusively on the disclosure of that limited piece of information", he said.

Still, Temple ruled that the victor has no privacy interest in keeping the community wherein she resides secret, which the judge ruled could be disclosed pursuant to a Right-to-Know request. The woman's lawyer, William Shaheen, said she is from Merrimack, 30 miles south of Concord.

Doe, Gordon said, "had a great deal of stress throughout this process, and this decision was helpful to address some of that stress". The woman won the Powerball drawing January 6 after buying the ticket at Reeds Ferry Market, a convenience store in Merrimack.

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The winner's privacy interest in the nondisclosure of her name outweighs the public's interest in the disclosure of her name, the judge concluded.

New Hampshire Lottery officials argued the state's right-to-know law allowed them to reveal her name.

If the hometown and the numbers are out in the public sphere, Temple suggested that "further diminishes the public's interest in learning the name written on the back of a winning ticket". The commission said any adjustment of the ticket would make it invalid.

The woman could have remained anonymous had she established a trust, then had a trustee sign the ticket, the lawyers argued.

Last week she received just over $264m - her winnings minus taxes and bearing in mind winners get a smaller amount if they opt for a lump sum payment. He said there was "no evidence" that the New Hampshire Lottery Commission was engaged in corrupt activity and noted that the winning numbers are drawn in Florida anyway.

The commission says it will consult with the attorney general's office to determine what to do next regarding the case.

Maura McCann, a spokeswoman for the Lottery Commission, said in an e-mail that the state couldn't release Doe's hometown Monday, since "the ruling is not yet a final decision, still subject to final review and appeal".

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