Friday, January 03, 2014

House & Senate Approve Next-of-Kin Bill

A new legal barrier to prevent an individual accused of killing a family member from claiming that person's dead body requires only Gov. Deval Patrick's signature to become law.

On Monday, December 30th, the House and Senate both approved the bill, S1099, filed by Sen. Karen Spilka (D), who said she worked with Rep. Kate Hogan (D) on the measure.

For perpetrators of domestic violence, retaining the body and preventing it from being buried or returned to loved ones can be an extension of the control they exerted throughout the abuse, Spilka said.

"They try to remain in control by keeping possession of the body and sometimes not burying the body," she added.

The version of the bill passed by the House and Senate provides for a process where a person charged with a criminal offense that "resulted in the death of the deceased" can, within 24 hours of being charged, petition the Probate & Family Court, which would be required to issue a ruling within two days.

In general, the bill would take away an individual's right to receive a person's body if that individual has been charged or convicted of a criminal offense resulting in that person's death.

Spilka said she has spoken to Patrick's staff and anticipates he will sign the bill.

For further information, see entire article.