Legally speaking, when does “death do you part”?

A prison lifer seeks clarification … and freedom.

According to several sources

In 1996, Benjamin Schreiber was sentenced to life without parole for bludgeoning a man to death.

Usually, that sentence is pretty clear cut.

Not in Schreiber ‘s case.

Here’s the rub…


In 2015, Schreiber developed septic poisoning from untreated kidney stones, went into cardiac arrest that rendered him medically dead.

Though he had a ‘do not resuscitate’ order on file, the doctors were able to restart his heart and revive him.

Schreiber fully recovered and was returned to prison.

That’s when Schreiber and his attorneys got creative.

They argued that Schreiber’s momentary death fulfilled his life sentence … so, he should be released.

Their argument was a variant of an “age-old belief in the United States that you can only hang a condemned man once. If he survives, it must be the “will of God” and he should go free.”

Was God expressing her will in Schreiber’s case?

If not freed, wasn’t Schreiber being confronted with an odd form of double jeopardy … being forced to serve, in effect, 2 life sentences for the same crime?

And, what about the ‘do not resuscitate’ order?

Was it cruel and unusual punishment for the prison doctors to resuscitate him and subject him to more years in prison?

So far, the courts have been unsympathetic to Schreiber’s appeals.

The courts reasoning…

If you can sign court documents, you’re alive … and if you’re alive, you haven’t finished your sentence.

It’s as simple as that.

Nonetheless, you have to commend Schreiber’s legal creativity …  it was certainly worth a try.

If he had prevailed, I wonder what the implications would have been for traditional wedding vows.

I bet a bunch of couples would have thought that they now had an “out” to that vow.



Follow on Twitter @KenHoma

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