Ohio Zombie-Man Confirmed Dead By The Court He Personally Attended

from the the-walking-dead dept

Much of my work involves working with law firms, so I speak with lawyers on a daily basis. When the topic of conversation switches away from the IT world and becomes more personal, those lawyers often tell me how mundane their work is. Far from the courtroom drama you get from television and movies, litigation involves more paperwork and banality than many of us would know how to handle. So, while not sexy, you can picture the daily life of a courtroom attorney as repetitive, boring, and yawn-inducing.

But then a freaking zombie walks into the courtroom and demands a social security card and the entire thing goes to hell. At least, that's what appears to have happened in Ohio recently, where a man declared dead in the 90's showed up to get that declaration reversed, only to have the court reaffirm his dead-ness.

Donald Eugene Miller Jr. walked out of Hancock County Probate Court on Monday as legally dead as ever.

In 1994, the court ruled that Miller was legally dead, eight years after he disappeared from his Arcadia rental home. The same judge, Allan Davis, ruled Monday that Miller is still dead, in the eyes of the law. Miller's request for a reversal came well after the three-year legal limit for changing a death ruling, Davis said.
I'm personally just surprised that the bailiff didn't immediately issue a profound double-tap to zombie-Donald's forehead. Isn't that what you do with zombies?

In any case, I'd appreciate a primer from any legal industry insiders as to what the point of a statute of limitations on getting yourself declared not-dead might be. Without a reversal, this poor zombie can't get a social security card so that he can get a job and go through his day slack-jawed and shuffling. You know, like the rest of us do. But no, thanks to Donald's grieving widow, who had him declared dead in 1994 so that she could collect Social Security benefits, Donald's attempt at glorious resurrection has been denied.
"We've got the obvious here. A man sitting in the courtroom, he appears to be in good health," [Judge] Davis said. "I don't know where that leaves you, but you're still deceased as far as the law is concerned."
How the hell are we going to prosecute him when he begins eating brains?



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Rikuo (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 11:42am

    But...what...how...blargg...*brain dribbles out of ear*

     

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    silverscarcat (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 12:09pm

    Well...

    Crap!

    I knew this day would come, but did it have to happen when we can't get into any military bases?

    If any of you need me, I'll be in the panic dome!

     

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    silverscarcat (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 12:14pm

    This sums up my feelings on zombies...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 2:12pm

    He has a good alibi from now on.

     

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    Steve Gaucher (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 2:17pm

    So what are the actual legal ramifications of this? What if he murdered someone? You can't charge a dead man with murder.

     

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      MondoGordo (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 2:21pm

      More to the point

      What if someone murdered HIM ? Do they get a free pass ? You can't murder a dead man and if he's legally deceased ...? Is it a freebie ?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 2:23pm

      Re:

      "You can't charge a dead man with murder."

      Well, if you want to go down THAT route, they could just bury him. No need for a trial; he's dead.

      (Of course, he WOULD be charged and get a trial. Show me where in the law it says a dead man CAN'T be tried.)

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2013 @ 1:55am

        Re: Re:

        I think there's law requiring you to acquire permission to "handle" a corpse.

        So you might get away for killing him, but remember not to bury or burn him.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 2:23pm

      Re:

      You can't charge a dead man with any crime at all. In fact maybe that is what he needs to do. Commit some petty misdemeanor so he can be charged with something to prove he is still alive. It would be interesting to see that play out in court.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 3:07pm

      Re:

      Well hell what about his Constitutional rights?

      Here's one American the NSA doesn't have to worry about those pesky rights. I know! Maybe he can get a job as their poster child for what a "good" American is?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 2:20pm

    Who is really the zombie here?

    After all it is the judge that lacks the brains required to make a common sense ruling here.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 2:27pm

      Re: Who is really the zombie here?

      Judges must rule based on what the law says and I'd rather have a ruling like this than allow activist judges to create the laws themselves.

      At any rate, now that this story is out in the news the Feds will probably want their social security payments back. The man may not have the resources to get the law challenged in a federal court, but government sure as hell does.

       

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        Bergman (profile), Oct 10th, 2013 @ 4:46am

        Re: Re: Who is really the zombie here?

        If a judge has no discretion, why not replace him with a computer program? It would be cheaper, and if judges truly have no discretion when it comes to nonsensical laws, nobody would notice a difference.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2013 @ 4:53am

          Re: Re: Re: Who is really the zombie here?

          I've advocated the same thing to solve Zero Tolerance insanity. If those cowardly assholes won't exercise any discretion replace them with a computer program and minimum wage operator. That would get them acting sane very quickly.

           

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          nasch (profile), Oct 10th, 2013 @ 9:04am

          Re: Re: Re: Who is really the zombie here?

          If a judge has no discretion, why not replace him with a computer program?

          Computers are nowhere near ready to handle that kind of task.

           

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          Andrew F (profile), Oct 10th, 2013 @ 2:45pm

          Re: Re: Re: Who is really the zombie here?

          Because not all laws are written this way -- many laws still include concepts such as "reasonableness" or "substantial evidence", which permit a fair degree of judicial discretion.

          Judges also decide what to do if you have two laws that are otherwise clear but contradict each other when presented with a particular test case (that wasn't anticipated at the time the law was drafted or "encoded").

           

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      Trails (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 2:58pm

      Re: Who is really the zombie here?

      All that explains is why Miller never tried to eat him...

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 2:20pm

    A statute of limitations on this sort of thing makes sense for SOME things. You don't want someone to try and prove their ancestor wasn't really dead in 1823 but actually died in 1857, meaning their inheritance should have gone to the OTHER child because the first one was also dead by then, and suddenly Lloyds of London has new ownership. At some point, this sort of thing has to be settled.

    But when someone walks into a courtroom, it is silly to declare them to be dead. I don't know whether the problem is with the judge or the law, but this outcome is ridiculous.

     

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      James Burkhardt (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 7:42pm

      Re:

      Which only means you need a statute of limitations of having a third party appeal to revoke your deadness, or better yet, the only way to reverse a declaration of death is for you (or your doctor or a officer of the law if you can not travel for medical or legal reasons) to show up in court.

       

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    Richard (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 2:21pm

    Tax avoidance

    Presumably if he stays dead he can earn as much as he likes - and still pay no taxes. Opening a bank account to put the money in could be a problem though!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 2:34pm

    The missing key to the courts ruling is this sentence from the article, "Miller's ex-wife, Robin Miller, had asked for the death ruling so Social Security death benefits could be paid to their two children.". If the man was recognized to be alive, then that would mean that his ex-wife and children would have to repay those Social Security benefits.

    By keeping the man dead, the judge here is actually serving justice. This person left with no contact, and without paying his debts, enough so that the state assumed he was dead. Restoring his "alive" status would benefit him, but severely harm his family.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 2:42pm

      Re:

      Making this public has done the same thing. Guaranteed the government is going to get the statute of limitations overturned somehow so they can get back the money they paid out.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 3:10pm

        Re: Re:

        Or it could just be deducted from his account and payments out would change to a different benfactor or stop until he starts withdrawing...

         

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      Rikuo (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 2:56pm

      Re:

      Wouldn't the ex-wife be able to argue that both she and the courts had had a reasonable belief that until now he was dead, so unless fraud on her part can be proven, clawing back the money would be wrong anyway?

       

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      Dogboy, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 8:15pm

      Re:

      But he isn't dead. A person leaving with no contact is not always dead. In this case he is very much alive. He was in court saying he was alive. What kind of messed up law rules that a live, living person talking to you is dead?

       

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    weneedhelp (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 2:43pm

    Ha ha ha

    Try writing me a speeding ticket bitches!!!

     

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      Brazenly anonymous, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 4:48pm

      Re: Ha ha ha

      Man without papers caught speeding. Investigation determined he was legally dead.

      Man deported to the grave by officer's gun.
      Case marked as closed.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 3:26pm

    Dead Man Walking

    Perhaps the only man in the world that can claim that title.
    Maybe get a license plate of DEADON or ZOMBY.

    I'd say good timing, as it's almost Halloween.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 3:46pm

    What if someone now kills him?
    Surely someone cant die twice.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 4:10pm

    Can't he make some voodoo dolls?

     

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    Wally (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 4:23pm

    I love my state lol :-3

     

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    Lisa Westveld (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 4:38pm

    You don't have to prosecute him. He's already legally dead so if you shoot him, you're not committing murder. You're only damaging a dead body, which is a misdemeanor, if I'm not mistaken.

     

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      DogBreath, Oct 10th, 2013 @ 8:51am

      Re:

      Also anyone who has had sex with him since he was declared dead could be charged with a necrophilia crime, depending upon where such act took place.

      The sad thing is that the victim (the dead guy) could probably even be called to testify against the accused in open court, because regardless of the law, in reality the victim is still alive.

      On a side note: I bet this is the ultimate way to get out of jury duty. "I'm sorry your honor. I will not be coming in for jury duty. I'm dead."

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 5:08pm

    Well, what the hell did he do for a living in the "dead" years? Seems he might need to just stay dead.

     

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    Zem, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 5:10pm

    This man has a bright future ahead of hum, as the new head of the NSA.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 5:25pm

    Dead men on trial

    Plenty of international precedent.

    Sergei Magnitsky in Russia in June-July 2013:
    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/07/11/201120083/death-and-tax-evasion-the-strange-ca se-of-sergei-magnitsky

    Pope Formosus in January 897
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadaver_Synod

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 7:09pm

    Sounds like a stiff case.

     

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    DavyD, Oct 9th, 2013 @ 8:06pm

    I don't now it that was the most stupid or the best thing I have ever heard. Just when you thought the world couldn't get weirder

     

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    Drew Farkas (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 9:25pm

    Knight Rider

    So if some crime fighting organization is looking for a hero to drive around in a hot car and hit on the ladies, it sounds like an ideal candidate has been born!
    A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man -- who does not exist.

     

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    Hephaestus (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 9:39pm

    A couple more people like this and we have what the CDC's pamphlets say, a zombie apocalypse.

     

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    AB (profile), Oct 9th, 2013 @ 10:18pm

    Living people get declared dead more often then people might think. I know of 3 cases, including my own mother. She was in a POW camp when her step-mom had her declared dead (to remove her from the will). She never did get it overturned, and ended up emigrating here. Initially it even caused problems with that, but things were more relaxed back then so it all worked out in the end.

    It may not happen often, but that doesn't make it okay to ignore the issue.

     

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    D. Hensley (profile), Oct 10th, 2013 @ 3:08am

    "How the hell are we going to prosecute him when he begins eating brains?"

    Clearly not something the judge needs to worry about, he's obviously not zombie food grade. And he's already ruled the guy's dead, so doesn't have to worry about prosecuting the guy either.

    You can't say he didn't come up with the perfect CYA verdict --at least for himself.

     

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    Jasmine Charter, Oct 10th, 2013 @ 6:09am

    Common Sense

    Benjamin Franklin said, in his time, that Common Sense wasn't very common. It hasn't gotten any better.

    If a "law" denies the obvious... shouldn't that law be immediately struck down.

    For instance, if some idiotic legislative body (which includes them all) were to pass a law that we are all ducks, it would seem that it should be quickly struck down.

    Instead, the court will insist that we are ducks until the law is changed.

     

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      nasch (profile), Oct 10th, 2013 @ 9:09am

      Re: Common Sense

      For instance, if some idiotic legislative body (which includes them all) were to pass a law that we are all ducks, it would seem that it should be quickly struck down.

      Instead, the court will insist that we are ducks until the law is changed.


      Because you don't want a single person to have the power to declare "that law is wrong so it doesn't exist anymore".

       

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      DogBreath, Oct 10th, 2013 @ 9:56am

      Re: Common Sense

      Benjamin Franklin said, in his time, that Common Sense wasn't very common. It hasn't gotten any better.

      He also said, "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

      So I guess the law on this guys death is final, until it's time for him to pay taxes. Or the old "Your dead until we say your not, but only when we (Government) require you to pay taxes" rule.

      He should make sure to not overpay as he might have a hard time getting a refund due to the statue of limitations on refunds for "dead" people.

       

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    Nurlip (profile), Oct 10th, 2013 @ 7:15am

    He can get a job without his social security card. Other forms of ID accepted are: Birth Certificate, Passport...Death Certificate... nope, that's not on the list. I wonder if he could even request a copy of his Birth Certificate since the records should show him being deceased? what does a dead guy need his birth certificate for?

     

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    John Doe, Oct 10th, 2013 @ 10:05am

    So his copyrights will expire in life plus 70

    Wow, just imagine how much money the copyright lawyers will make trying to determine when any copyrights he holds expire. Life plus 70 years? Yes, but when did his life end? :)

     

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      DogBreath, Oct 10th, 2013 @ 10:28am

      Re: So his copyrights will expire in life plus 70

      When the corporations and their lobbyists say they do. Which, based on further extensions of copyright law, will be N-E-V-E-R.

      This is after said corporations get laws passed assigning all copyrights to themselves in perpetuity as they are now considered "persons" and can never die because they were never "born" nor "alive" in the first place.

      Some say that corporations would sell their souls (if they ever had one to begin with) to the Devil. I say that is wrong. They would only license said rights to the aforementioned "soul" for a "limited time", revocable at any actual or even perceived breaking of said license.



      Corporations, The Ultimate Undead.

      Coming soon to a lawmakers back pocket near you.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2013 @ 1:20pm

    What happens if he decides to go on a killing spree?
    Are they allowed to charge dead people with crimes?

    What if they catch him in the act?
    You don't understand officer, I'm dead.
    -Oh shit, our bad, move it along people nothing to see here.

    Is everyone you make sexy time with now considered a necrophiliac?

    Does this mean earth is actually hell? I mean he is dead after all and obviously he did not go to heaven.

    Jesus H. Christ my head!

     

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    John Pettitt (profile), Oct 10th, 2013 @ 1:55pm

    I bet Texas would still execute him.

    If convicted in Texas I bet they would still execute him, legally dead or not.

     

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    Postulator (profile), Oct 10th, 2013 @ 7:24pm

    This is a silly article, arguing a silly point. When someone disappears, then there are certain things that have to happen legally.

    It generally takes seven years for a person to be declared dead, after which their will comes into force. Their spouse becomes a widow/widower, and may be entitled to certain government payments as well as being able to marry again. All sorts of other legal niceties have to be sorted out.

    If/when that person reappears, one immediate question is "where have you been, and why?" Regardless of that, though, the stuff that has been done cannot be undone. The spouse who remarries is not suddenly a bigamist, the person can't just take back all their old possessions...

    This is all sensible, because you cannot leave a person's life (or death) in limbo, affecting all around them. And you cannot, when they suddenly reappear, undo all that has been done on the assumption that they were dead. In this case, they guy turns up and says "I'm back". The court cannot just say "oh yeah - okay, here's your life back. We kept it in a cupboard while you were gone".

    The guy actually made a conscious decision to abandon his life (including his debts) - he cannot expect to just pick things up when he returns.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 11th, 2013 @ 6:35am

      Re:

      There's a difference between giving him his old life back (clearly impossible), and giving him the means to have a proper legal life of some sort. The judge needs to provide a way for the latter, but he didn't. So what's the guy supposed to do now. His life is now in limbo.

       

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      DogBreath, Oct 11th, 2013 @ 9:53am

      Re:

      I hope he didn't do something stupid like fill out an organ donation form, or leave his body to science after he was declared dead, because their might be quite a few hospitals looking to collect based on how fresh his "organs" and "cadaver" still are after all this time.

      It's not like anyone could be charged with murder, they have a signed contract.

      What district attorney would bring up charges, or police officer arrest them, or judge or jury convict them? You can't murder the dead. That trial would be about as silly as legally enforcing someone who is clearly alive, to not be allowed declared "Not Dead" due to some clearly illogical statue of limitations... oh, wait.. that happened.

      But the law is the law, even when it's stupid. Good thing Judge Dredd wasn't presiding over this trial, or the guy would not have made it out of courtroom... on his own two feet, that is.

       

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    Urgelt (profile), Oct 11th, 2013 @ 4:31pm

    Annoying Man + Authoritarian System = Screwed

    Yeah, I get it. The judge found the guy to be annoying (for the record, so did I). So, like any good little authoritarian, the judge used his authority in an arbitrary way to punish the jerk. The judge had no difficulty finding vague statutes to let him do it. The books are full of them.

    That's how things work in this authoritarian version of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

    The end result sounds like something from the book 'Catch-22' - ridiculously absurd. Well, that's sort of the point Joseph Heller was trying to communicate. Authoritarian systems are capricious and clunky and produce endless absurdities, like cops shooting unarmed legless old guys in wheel chairs, or judges declaring obviously living guys legally dead. They do this shit because, obviously, they can.

     

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    Harshavardhan Ganesan, Nov 3rd, 2013 @ 8:50pm

    Judgement copy

    What a crazy decision! Does anyone have a copy of the court ruling or the judgement?!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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