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Criminal Justice

‘Fnu Lnu’ defendants cause confusion for courts and at least one reporter

Posted Jul 15, 2013 10:45 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Fnu Lnu is an acronym rather than a name, but the fact isn’t always apparent.

There are hundreds of people in the court system identified as Fnu Lnu, which means “first name unknown, last name unknown,” the New York Times reports. Some Fnu Lnus are never identified, but that doesn’t stop them from being tried, convicted and sentenced to prison, often in stolen identity cases.

A reporter for the Daily Press in Newport News, Va., published an article in 1994 that identified a defendant as Fnu Lnu as if it was a person's name. The correction was picked up by the Columbia Journalism Review, inspiring a playwright to write a play entitled “Fnu Lnu.”

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have also had some fun with the acronym. “Years ago, as a practical joke,” the story says, “federal prosecutors in Manhattan would sometimes have an unwitting operator repeatedly page ‘Mr. Fuhnoo Luhnoo’ over the intercom, eliciting peals of laughter as the name boomed throughout the building.”

Hat tip to Pat’s Papers.

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