How dead is dead?
A recent case that went to court ended unsatisfactorily when the defendant died while abroad. The death certificate brought the lawsuit to a close. After the defendant died, we received strong complaints from our client over continuing surveillance for no reason other, in their opinion, than to bill extra hours. They were not happy, to say the least.
Their unhappiness diminished rapidly when the dead defendant made phone calls to one of the people on whom we were conducting the continuing surveillance. Not surprisingly, our client’s unhappiness diminished, and that of the judge increased. As we suspect, will the unhappiness of the deceased once his quickened remains are extradited back to the U.S.
While a death certificate can in many cases be as good as the corpse, not all death certificates are created equal (Editors’ note: If you pay more than $12 for a death certificate in Haiti you are being ripped-off). As a rule of thumb, the more money that is involved in a case, the more we want to see the body and jab it with a pin before we are willing to believe the person is dead.