If you regularly worry about being overcome by walkers, geeks, biters, infected, lamebrains, roamers and rotters, then Halloween may just be your favorite day of the year.
We’re talking Zombies, of course. So as not to play favorites, we will expand the conversation to include vampires, werewolves and the one-of-a-kind Frankenstein. All of these can unmistakably be classified as “the undead.”
So here is the interesting thing: a Zombie, vampire, werewolf and Frankenstein may be legally dead in one state but not in another.
That’s because each state gets to make its own definition of “dead.” Naturally, these different definitions have the potential of creating confusion across the land. An heir can inherit property from a dead person’s estate – but not from the estate of a person still living. Similarly, a defendant can’t be convicted of murder if the victim is not dead. However, because of differing laws, while someone in a vegetative coma in Nebraska may be considered legally dead, if that same person is transported across the state line into Iowa then he would no longer be considered dead. You can see where both the heir and the criminal defendant could have some concerns, and perhaps some motivation, to get the person on the right side of a state line.
That distinction caused the Uniform Law Commission to draft the Uniform Determination of Death Act, which has been adopted in 36 states, including Nebraska. Texas has never adopted it.
The UDDA states that the determination of death is “An individual who has sustained either (1) irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions, or (2) irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem, is dead. A determination of death must be made in accordance with accepted medical standards.”
In Texas, however, the determination of whether someone is dead is decided when “according to the ordinary standards of medical practice, there is irreversible cessation of the person’s spontaneous respiratory and circulatory functions.”
You can see the distinction: Texas law omits the part about the brain ceasing all function. Why Texas politicians are scared to address the requirement that a living person must have a functioning brain is, frankly, a bit suspicious.
Whatever. It all circles back to the interesting question about zombies, vampires, werewolves and poor Frankenstein, all of whom are apparently wandering about terrorizing innocent civilians on Netflix and, arguably, Austin. It is irrefutable that if they are found in Nebraska, which adopted the UDDA, then they would be considered dead. You could hit them with bats wrapped in barbed-wire and shoot them with silver bullets all day long and you would never see the inside of a courtroom on a murder charge.
Not so in Texas where, as long as they draw a fetid breath, they are not dead. Possibly not alive, either, but then the law doesn’t speak in terms of “life” or even “undead.”
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The information contained in this article is general information only and does not constitute legal advice.