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OPINION: Dead and alive

['Frankly Speaking with Frank Likely']
['Frankly Speaking with Frank Likely']

Frankly Speaking with Frank Likely

It appears that society may soon have to revisit that famous quote of Benjamin Franklin regarding death and taxes. Following the adoption of the fledgling U.S. Constitution, Franklin noted the document had an “appearance that promises permanence” but added “ in this world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.”

A couple of legal decisions in the United States appear ready to throw Mr. Franklin's words out the window.

In Iowa, a man serving a life sentence for murder has argued he should be set free because he ‘died’ and was only brought back to life against his wishes. The killer suffered a serious illness which did indeed lead to his heart stopping. But he was revived a total of five times and did make a full recovery from his illness.

In his application to the courts for release, he argued that health care professionals had violated his do not resuscitate directive and he would have actually died had they not intervened. Thus he would have completed his sentence, except for the interventions. The Court of Appeal disagreed and ruled his sentence continues.

Meanwhile a court in Ohio has ruled than a man who is obviously alive must remain “officially dead.”

Facing massive debts, the man fled from his home without trace more than 25 years ago. He was declared legally dead almost a decade later. He resurfaced decades later and tried to restore his life by getting the documents like a driver's license we all need as identification. He was refused because he was “dead.”

The man then went to court to have the declaration of death overturned, arguing that he was most obviously alive.

The courts however said he must remain “officially dead” as state law says legal declarations of death cannot be reversed after three years, and his case was well beyond that deadline.

I once was dead but now I'm???

Frank Likely is a retired Anglican minister who lives in Springhill.

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