C.J. William Rehnquist carved into a pumpkin

Yes, that is C.J. William Rehnquist carved into a pumpkin. Be very afraid.

There is certainly no better day of the year than this one to connect the dots between lawyers and the underworld. And no, I don’t mean the Mafioso.

Happy Halloween. Perhaps I should have waited until today to share the story about an ASU Law School professor who chose to examine the relation between zombies and the tax code. But that tale already walks the earth, and I won’t dig it up again. (But if you missed it, here it is. Click at your own peril.)

If you read that haunting tale and still have a wooden stake you’re aching to use, then turn to this fascinating tale about a law professor (what’s up with the law professors?) named Victoria Sutton and her new book, titled Halloween Law: A Spirited Look at the Law School Curriculum.

zombie apocalypse death and taxesIn it, Sutton “examines the scarier side of first year law school subjects like torts, property and criminal law.”

You can read all about her attempt to terrorize the already terrified in this great blog post by John G. Browning.

As the ghoulish professor notes:

“I thought I might do something on vampires and the law,” says Sutton, “[b]ut there wasn’t enough variety.  But in my research I noticed a great number of cases revolving around Halloween, and it occurred to me the subject areas fell into the same categories we teach in the first year of law school.”

Halloween Law by Victoria Sutton

Many of us need only read “first year of law school” to begin uttering, “The horror, the horror.” But for those hearty souls who want to enter the dark cavern, push aside the cobwebs, and perhaps find a treasure (or at least a Halloween Snickers), here is where you may find Sutton’s volume of unspoken woe.

Be strong, and here’s hoping all your candy bars are full-sized.

Ipso Facto Beer Halloween

Speaking of strong: Yes, that is Ipso Facto Halloween-ish brew. Don’t judge.

On this Change of Venue Friday, there may be no more random news to share with you than ongoing preparations for the Zombie Apocalypse. And that planning is occurring right here in Arizona (our state, a leader once again).

It was about a month ago that I heard about a unique Iowa Law Review article penned by an ASU Law Prof, Adam Chodorow. His article? “Death and Taxes and Zombies.”

Read the abstract here. I would wager that throughout the SSRN database, this is the only article with the following keywords: income tax, tax policy, estate tax, trusts and estates, zombies, undead, vampires, ghosts.

News of the article came from ASU Law Dean Doug Sylvester, whom I was interviewing for a September Q&A in Arizona Attorney Magazine. Our conversation was fascinating, but even more noteworthy for his uttering the word “zombies.” That, in my experience, is a first.

Professor Chodorow is taken with all the challenging tax consequences that may flow from a zombie apocalypse

Coverage of the zombie article has come from near and far. In fact, one of the most humorous news articles can be found on Forbes.com, where contributor Peter J. Reilly explores Chodorow’s piercing questions, like “What if your bride becomes a vampire?”

Here is a little of the brain-eating analysis from Professor Chodorow’s abstract:

“The U.S. stands on the precipice of a financial disaster, and Congress has done nothing but bicker. Of course, I refer to the coming day when the undead walk the earth, feasting on the living. A zombie apocalypse will create an urgent need for significant government revenues to protect the living, while at the same time rendering a large portion of the taxpaying public dead or undead. The government’s failure to anticipate or plan for this eventuality could cripple its ability to respond effectively, putting us all at risk.

“This article fills a glaring gap in the academic literature by examining how the estate and income tax laws apply to the undead. Beginning with the critical question of whether the undead should be considered dead for estate tax purposes, the article continues on to address income tax issues the undead are likely to face. In addition to zombies, the article also considers how estate and income tax laws should apply to vampires and ghosts. Given the difficulties identified herein of applying existing tax law to the undead, new legislation may be warranted. However, any new legislation is certain to raise its own set of problems. The point here is not to identify the appropriate approach. Rather, it is to goad Congress and the IRS into action before it is too late.”

Congratulations to Professor Chodorow for taking a legal swing at the undead problem. Have a wonderful, zombie-free weekend.