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An Ohio judge makes news around the world!

Tom Jackson • Oct 14, 2013 at 1:36 PM

An elected official making an apparently absurd decision sounds like the ultimate "dog bites man" story — something so common it scarcely qualifies as news.

Against all odds, Hancock County judge Allan Davis has succeeded in making a legal decision so apparently absurd, he has generated news headlines around the world.

As this BBC article reports, Davis ruled that an Ohio man is still legally dead — even though the judge could see that the man was alive, standing in the judge's courtroom. The judge explained that under Ohio law, he could not find that Donald Miller was, in fact, alive.

On the one hand, the judge's ruling would seem to represent a decisive victory for conservative jurisprudence. We are always being told that judges should not rewrite the law from the bench and should follow the law strictly. Judge Davis is the new hero for everyone who believes that facts or reality should not alter the sacred majesty of the law. No doubt if a Republican wins the next presidential election, the Federalist Society will be pushing hard to have Davis named to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

On the other hand, if judges are free to declare that living people are dead, doesn't that open up the possibility of handing vast new powers to American judges?  Isn't this the ultimate threat to the balance of powers? Just in case, do we need a new amendment to the U.S. Constitution stating that only dead people can be declared to be dead?

I'm also curious whether this create a precedent and whether Sandusky judges such as Roger Binette and Tygh Tone get to decide who will live and who will be declared dead, or whether those powers only apply if they are appointed as visiting judges in Hancock County. 

I didn't understand the article's statement that "Mr Miller has 30 days to appeal against the Ohio court's ruling." I realize that dead people are allowed to vote in Chicago, but how can a dead man file an appeal? 

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