Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Man Had Medical Emergency In Prison, Claims Life Sentence Now Fulfilled

JailBenjamin Schreiber was found guilty of first-degree murder in 1997 and sentenced to spend the rest of his life in Iowa State Penitentiary. He was hospitalized in 2015 with septic poisoning caused by large kidney stones. According to court documents, he was unconscious. He was resuscitated though he claims that he executed a DNR  several year before, and had surgery to repair the damage to his kidneys.

Schreiber filed for post-conviction relief in April 2018, claiming that because he momentarily died at the hospital, he fulfilled his life sentence and should be freed immediately. The district court dismissed his claim, stating that it was "unpersuasive and without merit." The Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court's decision, saying that until a medical examiner declares Schreiber deceased, his prison sentence is to continue. The district court did not address Schreiber's additional claim that his due process rights were violated when the doctors failed to follow his "do not resuscitate" request, court records show. The court of appeals said in its ruling that it could not address the matter either as a lower court had not made any judgment on it.

See Anna Spoerre, Man Serving Life Sentence Says it Ended Once He Died, Was Revived in Medical Emergency, USA Today, November 7, 2019.

Special thanks to Laura Galvan (Attorney, San Antonio, Texas) for bringing this article to my attention.


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