The Legal Dilemma

At an examination for admission to the Bar of Ohio, the examiner propounded this question:
“A great many years ago, there lived a gentleman named Lazarus who died possessed of chattels, real and personal. After this event, to whom would they go?”

The student replied, “To his administrators and heirs.”

“Well, then,” continued the examiner, “In four days he came to life again; inform us; whose were they then?”

“I am not a lawyer but I see no difficulty in the inquiry. Lazarus died and was buried. Since he died, his property, as he left no will, invested in his heirs. The law gives no man the right to die for four days and then to come to life again. Legally, Lazarus could not rise. I have no do doubt the Supreme Court would decide that Lazarus who rose was not the Lazarus who died; he was a new Lazarus. The new Lazarus would of course feel within himself that he was the old Lazarus and could go around bothering his legal friends talking about his legal wrongs; but every lawyer would leave him as quickly as possible saying in parting; “It’s a hard case; but if your heirs can prove your death and they came in legally under the statute, there is no way to make them disgorge. All you can do is this- you’re a young fellow, about sixty, hire about as a clerk, try to save something from your salary so as to go into business again. Building up a great estate and perhaps your heirs will recognize your identity.”


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