Thursday, 12 February 2015
Working in Ottawa today --The law and the undead
Good morning folks,
I will be working in Ottawa today
The law and the undead.
I took some mild grief from some readers over last week's comments on the unearthing and the posthumous lynching of Walt Disney. Not because I had offended Disney or Mickey fans, but rather because some claim that Walt wasn't buried, but rather frozen, TV dinner style, in hopes of reanimation --let's let that sink in for a second.. reanimation.. Disney.. reanimation. Okay, I find that funny ;)
Yes, reanimation -once medical science catches up to being able to solve being dead. However, I can assure all that the reports of Disney on Ice is a rumour only and that Walt is decomposing into dust just fine at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California although his copyright protection will live on. The latter as Congress and Parliament explain it is to ensure that the dead are still motivated to engage in creative works.
A few weeks back I was engaged in discussion with Tamer, a colleague, over the subtly of whether it was best to use 'responsibility' or 'obligation' in a particular contract change notice. Tamer's motivation was a strong desire to have a good notice, one that included high quality copy that communicated the precise contract requirements. I suggested that when specifying required conduct of a party in a contract that obligation was closer to concepts in Justinian civil code identifying the obligated, the obligator and the obligation. Responsibility is best to describe those requirements that stem from a moral duty or imperative not stemming from a contractual.. obligation. both are very good words none the less and have a place in legal text. Tamer agreed and off he went.
Stay with me here.
It had been sometime since I had even thought about the dramatic effect that the Justinian civil code, more precisely Corpus Juris Civilis has had on modern civil law. Prior to the Justinian effort there lacked a cohesive collection of civil laws and jurisprudence. That Justinian collection formed Roman law in 534 AD and was adopted into the basis of Western European law in the early 2nd century. It continues to be the founding principals in jurisprudence and was the last greatest revision of will and probate laws.
Yay, ya fine, Uncle Daniel, you are losing us. What about the undead?
Hang on, I'm gettin' there. I read this morning about U.S. citizen-deceased Donald Miller Jr. Donald disappeared back in the 80's owing his ex-wife thousands in support payments and was declared legally dead in 1994. He is now trying to be declared alive so that he can obtain a drivers license among other attributes of the not yet dead.
The courts however are hamstrung by the law. The only provision in the applicable law requires a reversal to occur within 3 years of the undead being declared dead. So.. Donald is still dead. This is actually a good thing, as it relieves the state and his ex-wife from trying to figure out how to reconcile things like Social Security Death Benefits and estate distributions that might have occurred and the associated transfers of legal title.
Now what if Donald's grief wasn't part of a fraud but part of the reanimation of a Cryosnoozer? Or what about a mind converged with artificial intelligence, I believe in a prior Pulp I referred to convergence of mind and computer akin to being kept occupied by a silicon hamster wheel. If someone downloads his mind into a computer system what legal claim could the silicon marionette make on the estate of the downloaden?
What if the owner of the mind both downloaded a copy of his thoughts into Big Red but also became a reanimated Creamsicle? Which abomination would have greater claim to his name and assets?
Recall above, the last time we revamped will and probate law and jurisprudence was in the year 534 AD (see,there was a point to the blathering) the only thing we have done since is engage in minor tweaks; establishing new laws and jurisprudence dealing with the undead would be a substantial change.
Some points to ponder should you be considering the cryosnooze route.. Any life insurance that was paid out on death v1 would likely be a claim in a suit launched by the insurance company on your thawing. Your heirs would be severely annoyed if you want you house, car and record player back. The Barry Manilow records however are already waiting for you. You will likely need to file back tax returns for your 'death years' if any reclaimed property appreciated in value, especially if it was a PFIC (that's a joke for U.S. expats).
Hey, sidebar: not a legal question, but how many funerals for the same guy would you be socially obligated to attend? Jack is dead? Again? That makes the 3rd time this year. Well, I'm not going. Gotta draw the line.
..And we're back
I suspect that it is highly likely that you would also suffer from some pretty severe discrimination. this would be due to the gangrenous waft that even showering with Dial won't fix. Your skin would have definitely lost any youthful glow and likely you would have lost some pieces due to freezer burn, but don't worry, I am sure you'll be able to locate a 'doner nose'. Such discrimination would likely not be illegal since human rights codes don't extend to dead humans. I for one will only frequent restaurants with strictly enforced sections for those with necrotic tissue. Either that or No shirt, no shoes, no pulse, no service.
I will close with suggesting that the the shuffling, moaning undead with the indeterminant stare aren't that way because of mental deficiency, but is because they saw how large of a retainer their lawyer wanted.
Have a great day, stay frosty!