Declared legally dead as he sat before the judge

Judge Allan H. Davis of Hancock County Probate Court, had declared Mr. Miller dead in 1994, several years after he mysteriously disappeared.

In fact, Mr. Miller, 61, had simply drifted away to work in Georgia and Florida, he told the judge on Monday in Findlay, Ohio. Now, he said, he wanted to apply for a driver’s license and needed to reactivate his Social Security number.

“I don’t know where that leaves you, but you’re still deceased as far as the law is concerned,” Judge Davis told Mr. Miller.

Funny story but you’ve got to feel a little sorry for the guy.

  • def4

    What’s the point of calling them judges if they have no judgement?

    • As the story said, he has to obey the law as written.

      • def4

        So why have such highly trained and well paid individuals as judges if no thought or discernment is involved? Any person capable of reading the laws should be enough to rigidly and blindly apply them.

        • Dennis Madrid

          Judges exist primarily to ensure that the law is followed properly, so that a person gets a fair hearing according to the law. In situations where the law is unclear then the judge, with years of knowledge and experience in the field of law, is able to make the best interpretation. In this case the law is pretty clear, and so there’s little the judge can do. Judges don’t make laws, they make sure they’re followed consistently and fairly.

          • def4

            There are two possible scenarios in this case.

            The unlikely one is that the laws have forseen this exact scenario and mandated the exact resolution given by the judge. In this case the people that wrote and passed the law are to blame for its absurdity.

            I have a very strong suspicion that existing laws only cover bits and parts of this situation and in that case the judge can have his pick of which particular laws make sense in this case, so he is to blame if he chooses the most inane one.

  • GadgetGav

    Not sure why we should feel sorry for someone who disappeared to avoid massive debts and child support… If you’re going to fake your own death or disappear, you have to stay disappeared or “dead”.

    • def4

      Why he disappeared is a separate issue that has no relation to the state refusing to acknowledge his existence. This is Kafkaesque.

      • Joe

        I don’t know, this seems like justice to me — he “faked” his death for his own benefit, why shouldn’t he have to suffer some consequences? And if those consequences involve not being able to get the state acknowledge your existence, that only seems like a fitting punishment. Also, if you follow the story further, it turns out that reactivating his social security number would require that the government also go after his “widow” for the survivors’ benefits that she and his child received after he was declared dead. Would that be fair to them? Or a worthwhile endeavor for the state to pursue?

        • Gonji

          It never actually states the man “faked” his death. It only says he disappeared.

          The problem for me is the original judgement that was made. There was no actual proof of death.

          • def4

            I don’t think that was wrong either. Even when everyone acts within the bounds of the law the results can still be freaky. It doesn’t automatically mean somebody messed up.

        • def4

          Bad or silly or strange or complicated things happen all the time. Are we really so stupid and childish that we need to have laws and somebody to blame and punish for every single trifle?

      • Paul Judd

        The problem is that the judge doesn’t have a legal method to allow for this. The judge has his back against a wall, he has to follow the letter of the law and in this case it’s damn clear on what the judge can and cannot do.

        Judges can’t just break the law even if it doesn’t make sense. He can comment that the law is not proper (which he did) but the judge doesn’t have a choice here unless the founding law changes.

        • def4

          No, the problem is that the law was designed to serve the people but it is enforced like people must serve the law.

  • Gonji

    Can “dead” people rob banks with impunity?

  • Paul Chernoff

    The judge doesn’t have the authority to resolve the problem. As to his ex-wife, I suspect that SSA could go after him for the money, but I am not familiar with the law in these cases.

    The problem is how the law is written and his deciding to just disappear. Any law can be twisted around at some point. Thus we have appeals courts.

    He is opening himself to prosecution for not paying child support over the years.