Published January 13, 2015
On Monday, an Ohio judge told 61-year-old Donald Miller that he was legally dead. An unusual ruling, considering that Miller was very much alive.
According to The Courier of Findlay, Ohio, Miller had gone to court Monday to try to reverse a 1994 death ruling by the same judge, Allan Davis. Judge Davis had declared Miller dead eight years after the latter had disappeared from his rental home.
Despite Judge Davis' acknowledgement that Miller was indeed in the courtroom, and appeared to be in good health, he did not reverse the ruling on the grounds that Miller's suit came after the three-year legal limit for challenging a death ruling.
"I don't know where that leaves you, but you're still deceased as far as the law is concerned," Davis said.
Miller's ex-wife, Robin, had asked for the death ruling from Judge Davis so that Social Security benefits could be paid to the couple's two children. Though Robin Miller did not testify Monday, she opposed her ex-husband's petition to reverse the death ruling, saying that she didn't have the money to pay back the Social Security benefits.
Donald Miller provided few details of what he did between his disappearance and 2005, when he returned to Ohio and was informed of the death ruling by his parents. He described himself as an alcoholic who had lost his job at the time of his disappearance. He told Judge Davis that he had worked odd jobs in Atlanta and Florida to make ends meet, but had not sought treatment for his alcoholism or tried to contact his children.
Robin Miller told The Courier that her husband had fled the state because he was scared of a jail term due to unpaid child support. She estimated that he owed over $26,000 at the time of the death ruling.
Miller has the option of appealing to the Social Security Administration, but his lawyer said after the ruling that he did not have the money to do so.