The court, has ruled that he remains deceased.
The application arose because his wife wants to formalize his death in order to obtain social security payments.
The judge, Allan H. Davis of Hancock County Probate Court, had declared Mr. Miller dead in 1994, several years after he mysteriously disappeared, leaving thousands of dollars of child support unpaid. His ex-wife, Robin Miller, had requested the declaration at the time so that she could apply for Social Security benefits for their two daughters.
Almost twenty years after he was declared legally dead, Donad Miller reappeared on the front lawn of his former wife’s home, having fled from Ohio in 1986 while dealing with alcoholism and unemployment.
“My paycheck was being taken away from me and I had nothing left,” Miller told the court. “It kind of went further than I ever expected it to. I just kind of took off, ended up in different places.”
Miller, now 61, wants his social security number reactivated and would like to apply for a driver’s license. Unfortunately, Ohio state law does not allow for a declaration of death to be reversed after three years have passed since the declaration. On Monday, Judge Allan H. Davis of Hancock County Probate Court, who had declared Miller dead in 1994, declared him legally dead again with Miller in attendance.
“I don’t know where that leaves you, but you’re still deceased as far as the law is concerned,” Judge Davis told Miller on Monday.
The New York Times writes:
Francis Marley, Mr. Miller’s lawyer, said that his client, who is not giving interviews, probably could not afford to appeal the decision. He said that Mr. Miller simply wanted to be able to work with a valid Social Security number. “We hoped the judge would see the equity of giving his life back,” he said.
As for why his client, who told Judge Davis that he is an alcoholic, disappeared for so many years, the lawyer said that “he was just — I guess you would call it a man-of-the-road, free-spirit type.”
Had he ever encountered a case like this? “No,” Mr. Marley said, “but I’ve only been practicing for 43 years.”