Marvel Plot Points

A fan site for the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game by Margaret Weis Productions

Liberty and Justice for All (Addendum): The Right to a Separate Identity


One of the provisions of the MRA deals with the registering and maintaining of secondary legal identities kept apart and private by the government.  This secondary identity would not be divulged to the public; from all outside appearances, the secondary identity would represent a second person entirely.  In this post I want to elaborate on this provision of the MRA and what it means to various types of heroes.


To review, the original provision states:

Registration Of Alternate Identity:  Any citizen showing proper cause and need (as defined by the state in which the citizen resides) may register his metahuman abilities or high technology under a secondary identity, which will only be tied to his primary identity via a sealed record.  Any criminal activity undertaken by either identity will result in the unsealing of said file and the public release of all alternate identities to the courts and law enforcement.


The applicant must show that he has a valid reason for establishing a secondary identity.  The definition of Proper Cause and Need is left to each state to decide, but in general must show that the secondary identity is necessary to prevent excessive harm from befalling the primary identity or those under that identity’s care.  Note that “harm” need not refer to physical harm, but could also include social harm or psychological harm.


There is no theoretical limit to the number of secondary identities an applicant may attempt to secure.  The primary restriction is Proper Cause And Need, above.


The law states that any criminal activity, regardless of type or severity, will result in the unsealing of the suspect’s various identities.  This is for the purposes of the courts having access to all information necessary to properly prosecute and defend the suspect, including the relevant activities of the suspect under alternate identities.  The courts are not required by the law to divulge the information to the public.

This is important to restate:  the courts do not have to divulge any or all of the suspect’s identities to the public.  If either the defense or the prosecution can show that such revelation would not serve the purpose of the court or would unnecessarily jeopardize the suspect’s well-being, the court can opt to keep the record sealed from public consumption.  The exception is for guilty verdicts of a severe nature, such as murder, rape or treason.  In such severe cases, the courts are obligated to divulge all identities to the public unless the government can cite “state secret privilege.”


If a former criminal has served his time and re-enters society, he is once more eligible for licenses under the MRA and to apply for secondary identities.  The applicant must be fully clear of legal restrictions, not merely on parole.  He must undergo more strict scrutiny of his request (again, as defined by the states), and his files will be flagged so that the courts can note prior convictions under other identities should the applicant appear before the courts once more as a suspect.


All government agencies that require accurate information on their citizens in order to properly govern, such as the IRS, will have access to all a citizen’s identities for purposes of performing those duties only.  All government employees with such access to said files must protect those identities as they would all confidential information in their care.


Should a citizen merely operate under a second name but not wish to keep that name as a separate identity, they may do so without acquiring permission, but all names must be filed under the citizen’s primary identity for legal purposes.  Using a second name specifically to remain “above the law” or to otherwise escape the consequences for illegal actions is itself illegal and will be prosecuted.  [This particular provision is etremely controversial, as it also requires the registering of online aliases of all citizens, metahuman or not.  Note that those online identities would not be divulged to the public, but would be registered with the government and would go a long way to protect citizens from online predators].


Clint Barton has had a criminal past and also several identities, including Hawkeye, Goliath and Ronin.  Assuming he hadn’t already made all of those identities public, he would have to maintain four separate identities, one for each of the names above.  Although reformed, because of his criminal history all of his files would be flagged in case he broke the law in one of his identities and was brought before the courts.

If Clint decided not to keep those identities secret he need not file for secondary identities but would have all of those alternate names on his record.


About jpjolin

I am an author, RPG gamer, husband, and father.

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This entry was posted on January 10, 2013 by in Tips & Tricks, What If?.

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