Half-Lifers as Witnesses
In Ubik there is another world that is inhabited by people who are in half-life. One half-lifer in particular, Jory Miller, is someone with strong half-life who has been causing chaos within this alternate world. He has been eating the cerebral activity force of other half-lifers and should be punished, but how does one punish a person in half-life? If Jory were put on trial for his crimes of essentially killing the life force remaining of others, would his rights be upheld? Specifically, would it be possible to follow through with the 6th amendment’s Confrontation Clause and right to Compulsory Process? There are many difficult questions that this state of being in half-life bring up such as if one of Jory’s victims, such as Ella Runciter, should even be in the same room as Jory seeing as he is able to possess them when in close proximity. With the introduction of half-life then, the 6th amendment must bend, as it has throughout history, to accommodate all who are involved.
When the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791 the 6th amendment was interpreted very differently than it is today. Specifically, the latter part of this amendment where “to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have Compulsory Process for obtaining witnesses in his favor” is discussed, was originally intended to allow the accused to come face-to-face with his accusers and have the jury see the way in which the witnesses deliver their testimony (Westen 571). Now, it is becoming acceptable for witnesses, such as children, to have their testimony heard by the jury without having to see the accused. However, this method of concealing the witness has been debated as unconstitutional in many Supreme Court cases.
What first must be established before discussing this amendment in regards to a half-life defendant is whether or not Jory, as a half-lifer, can even have this right protected. Proving that he can then will also decide whether or not his half-life victims have a case against him. The name itself “half-life” implies that the person in this state is neither alive nor dead, but still has some sort of attachment to the land of the living. Herbert Schoenheit von Vogelsang, owner of the moratorium, is an expert in the half-life system and states that those in cold-pac still retain cerebral activity, which is used to communicate to the living, until it is used up completely. Half-life is a mid-way state between life and death spent in cold-pac. Ella Runciter, stored at the Beloved Brethren Moratorium, technically died at the age of twenty but she was put into cold-pac as she was dying and her husband can still talk to her in a sense. To talk to someone in half-life a “portable protophason amplifier” is tuned to the proper frequency for any indication of “cephalic activity” on their casket and one can speak to them through a microphone and listen through an ear piece (Dick 5).
Glen Runciter, Ella’s husband, does...