Assisted Suicide in Utah

A Logan, Utah man was arrested for reckless endangerment and some weapon charges after he assisted with the suicide of his friend. A 20 year old man dealing with depression accompanied some friends to the home of 48 year old David Schofield and stated that he wanted to end his own life. Schofield handed the young man a gun and told him to pull the trigger. In his despair the 20 year old followed Schofield’s instructions, placed the barrel to his head, and ended his life.

Photo by: Cache County Sheriff Bookings

Photo by: Cache County Sheriff Bookings

Most likely not besties

Had Schofield been the one to pull the trigger his charges would have included homicide. Nevertheless, Schofield was not a murderer by law but just a really bad friend. Had he been a better person entirely, he may have found his depressed comrade some help or counseling. In the end though, he did not force the young man to kill himself, just supplied the weapon. Consequently he is only facing reckless endangerment charges regarding his role in the young man’s death. While assisting suicide for those facing mental illness such as depression should never be an option, what about friends or family members facing terminal illness and pain?

Watching a family member suffer

Last year an elderly man in Roy, Utah took the life of his 70 year old wife whose health had been declining following a stroke. 75 year old Dennis Vance Chamberlain was charged with first degree felony murder for killing his wife in her sleep after authorities found assisted suicide reading material in Chamberlain’s possession. Although it can be difficult to watch a loved one painfully waste away due to cancer or another terminal illness, ending their life for them is against the law and is punishable by a lengthy stay in prison. Besides ending life support for comatose victims, there are currently no laws in place allowing family members to end the suffering of their ailing loved ones. On the other hand, laws allowing doctors to perform assisted suicide are in the works.

Photo by: Derrick Tyson

Photo by: Derrick Tyson

Physician assisted suicide laws

Assisted suicide by a physician is still a touchy subject of debate nationwide. Washington, Oregon, Vermont, and Montana are the only states where assisted suicide by a physician is currently legal. Earlier this year in Utah, HB391 also known as the Death with Dignity Act was brought before lawmakers. This Utah law allowing assisted suicide by physicians is not legal yet and it being widely fought but is still under consideration.

Patient makes ultimate decision

Unlike euthanasia where the doctor is the one administering the lethal medications, assisted suicide by a physician is actually carried out by the patient themselves. The terminally ill patient first puts in a written request for assisted suicide, and then after the doctor has interviewed the patient thoroughly, he prescribes a few different types of medication to be taken together. This deadly cocktail is then available to the patient to take if and when they decide. There is a large opposition regarding this practice and the likelihood that it could glorify suicide in a state with an already high suicide rate. This concern, along with many others is being taken into consideration before HB391 is made lawful.

Dr. Kevorkian’s of Utah

Until Utah’s Death with Dignity Law is passed (if it ever is) it is unlawful for medical personnel to go above the law and prescribe death to their patients in the state of Utah. For Doctors to give their patients the means to end their life early is not a legal resolution yet. For those family members, friends, or physicians who may be facing charges by ending the suffering of the sick or afflicted, call a criminal defense attorney for legal counsel.

Failed Banks in the United States

According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), there are on record 540 failed banks in the United States since late 2000. Throughout the recent recession, bank failure spiked during 2010 with 157 going under in that one year alone. Starting in 2011 and carrying through to 2014, failed banks were declining steadily, down to only 18 recorded during 2014. Regrettably though, so far the year 2015 has seen 34 failed banks which is nearly the total amount of 2013 and 2014 combined; and this year is only halfway over.

Photo by: Jalbert Gadnier

Photo by: Jalbert Gadnier

Why Banks Fail

A bank fails when it is no longer able to pay back its depositors. This can happen for several reasons such as:

• Depositors panic (often because of bloated news stories) and withdraw excessive amounts of money, thus pulling the financial rug out from under the financial institution.
• The bank may have too many bad loans. Loaning too much money to those unable to pay it back.
• Assets such as mortgages end up worth less than the banks liabilities to its debtors. (head over heels…and underwater)
• Ratings drop and so do stocks. Other banks lose trust in failing bank and refuse to loan back and forth with said bank.

Protection for Investors

During the Great Depression of the 1930’s, The FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) was formed. The government wanted people to trust banks almost as much as banks did. By investing with a bank that is FDIC insured, depositors had some protection for their investments and were more likely to save their money in a bank account again instead of under their mattress or in a milk jar. Unlike what happened to many people during the Great Depression, failed banks wouldn’t mean the investor lost all their funds.

The Cleanup Crew

As stated on the FDIC website, “[after a bank fails], The FDIC is then appointed receiver (by the regulatory agency of the bank in question) and assume the tasks of: Disposing of the failed bank’s assets in a manner that maximizes their value, and settling the failed bank’s debts, including claims for deposits in excess of the insured limit.” Therefore funds belonging to investors and depositors are insured by the FDIC for up to $250,000 per separate account.

Obligations and Penalties of Failed Banks

Even AFTER the establishment of the FDIC, many states passed laws regarding failing banks accepting deposits. In line with Utah State Law, banks and other financial institutions are required to not receive any deposits if they are approaching a point when they may not be able to take care of their financial commitments (insolvency) unless the depositor knows of the banks standing. If they (“an officer, manager, or other person participating in the direction of a financial institution”) allow someone to deposit funds knowing that their financial distress is not known to the investor, they can face a 3rd degree felony in the state of Utah. (See Utah State Code 76-6-512)

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Although the bank is required to disclose its financial state to depositors if insolvent, wouldn’t that in turn cause the bank to fail? Depositors knowing their bank is in financial distress (yet possibly not understanding or trusting the FDIC’s insurance guarantee) may immediately withdraw excessive amounts of funds, sometimes completely draining their account. Consequently if all customers emptied their bank accounts in a panic, it would certainly be enough to sink the bank entirely. The FDIC knows this, which is why they (as a federal agency) do not notify the public prior to a bank’s closing. As stated on their website” […] notification is mailed immediately after the bank closes.” For those bank personnel who are facing charges because they, like the FDIC, failed to disclose insolvency to depositors in hopes of preventing runs on their financial institution, legal counsel with a knowledgeable attorney is recommended.

Collecting Rainwater Legally in Utah

Drought conditions continue to worsen in several states including Utah and collecting rainwater seems to be a smart way to conserve our precious commodity; however residents need to make sure they are doing so legally.

Photo by: Daryl Mitchell

Photo by: Daryl Mitchell

The rain belongs to…

In the past, many western states outlawed collecting rainwater, making sure the drops hitting roofs could eventually make their way to rivers without any interruption by residents. Then this water was sold in shares to those willing to pay, or given to those with grandfather’s rights on the land. This was the law up until a few years ago for Utah.

Why didn’t we think of that before?

A bill legalizing rainwater collection in Utah was passed in 2010 and amended in 2013. Why it took so long for a state plagued by drought to allow all residents to help conserve water by collecting rainwater, we may never fully understand. Although this practice is legal now, there are rules to follow to avoid charges.

Legal Rainwater Harvesting

According to the Utah Division of Water Rights:
• “To collect, store, and place the captured precipitation to a beneficial use, a person must register the use with the Utah Division of Water Rights as detailed in [Utah Code] 73-3-1.5.”

• “A person may collect and store precipitation without registering in no more than two covered storage containers if neither covered container has a maximum storage capacity of greater than 100 gallons. “

•  “The total allowed storage capacity with registration is no more than 2,500 gallons. Collection and use are limited to the same parcel of land on which the water is captured and stored. “[…]

For Utah residents who were unaware that there are guidelines for collecting rainwater and who may be facing charges, contact a defense attorney to find out your rights regarding penalties for not abiding by this law.