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?

Filed Under: ,

If you liked this post, you may also be interested in...
Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Ohio Zombie-Man Confirmed Dead By The Court He Personally Attended”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Andrew F (profile) says:

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”).

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

DogBreath says:

Re: 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.”

AB (profile) says:

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.

D. Hensley (profile) says:

“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.

Jasmine Charter (user link) says:

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.

nasch (profile) says:

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”.

DogBreath says:

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.

DogBreath says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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!

Postulator (profile) says:

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.

DogBreath says:

Re: 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.

Urgelt (profile) says:

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.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...