Nick Kam

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Conjoined twins and legal conundrums

Non-Conjoined Twins As Legal Actors

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However, DNA matches have connected identical twins to the crime, but criminal charges cannot be pursued against them because their DNA is exactly the same and the victims cannot identify which of the twins may have committed the crime.

Via The Merc.

See also, Summers v. Tice and the case of the lawyer too clever by half.

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Tatiana and Krista Hogan Turn in 6

The Edmunton Journal recently featured this infographic alongside an in depth update into the lives of Tatiana and Krista Hogan, craniopagus conjoined twins living in Vernon, British Columbia, Canada. From the article:

Each child has a fully structured brain, two cerebral hemispheres, a fully formed brain stem, cerebellum and spinal cord. They are conjoined not just by flesh and bone. Their brains are “zippered” together by a neural bridge between the thalami, the sensory processing hubs of their brains.

In a video to accompany the digital copy of the article, the twins’ mother, Felicia Hogan, demonstrates each twins’ ability to see what the other sees and feel what the other feels. Though their pediatric doctor, Dr. Juliette Hukin, remains skeptical that they can transmit thoughts to each other but does not dismiss the idea outright.

And yes, a reality show is in the works. Hollywood agent Chuck Harris has been pitching a program to television networks in the hopes of landing the girls a lucrative contract,  not unlike Abby & Brittany Hensel.

Read the article and see the short videos at the Edmunton Journal.

Download the infographic here.

Donate to their fund here.

 

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Alice Dreger’s The Sex Lives of Conjoined Twins Feature in The Atlantic

Alice Dreger, preeminent bio-ethicist on all things conjoined twins and Northwestern professor, recently penned this short piece for The Atlantic on the sex lives of conjoined twins. From Chang and Eng Bunker to Daisy and Violet Hilton, Dreger covers our fascination with what goes on behind conjoined twins’ closed door(s).

Via The Atlantic.

See also Stuck on You.

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Abby and Brittany: “22nd Birthday Bash” and “Spring Break, Here We Come”

Abby & Brittany debuted this week on TLC with 1,731,000 million viewers tuning in to check out the conjoined lives of Abby and Brittany Hensel. The opening of the show does a good job setting the table for what the show will feature: the twins are seniors at Bethel University who will graduate sometime during the series, go abroad to Europe, and land a teaching position in the fall.

Watching the show, it’s immediately apparent the compromises the Hensel twins make in their everyday lives in their clothes, food, and social lives. But most interesting is the way Abby and Brittany talk about themselves. They wander in and out of the singular and plural, referring to themselves both as “we” and as an “I.” They are quick to draw distinctions between their personalities as Abby is the homebody while Brittany is the bossy, sassy type.

According to one of their roommates, the twins paid 1 1/2 tuitions to attend Bethel University and pursued the same majors: elementary education with a math emphasis. It seems that as far as Bethel University is concerned, the Hensels present two legal entities.

Episode 2 featured the twins preparing for a job interview at a Houston Elementary School. Though they both seek teaching position, because they are doing the job of one person the twins stated they would only ask for one salary. With some hard bargaining, maybe they could kick that up to 1 1/2 salaries.

Watch episodes 1 and 2 here.

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TLC Presents: Abby & Brittany

TLC’s giving Abigail and Brittany Hensel a reality TV show this fall which is sure to present a parade of sticky legal situations. Take the photograph above depicting Abby and Brittany on a moped. What happens if they get popped for speeding? Who gets the infraction? In the past, one set of conjoined twins famously escaped a ticket for causing an accident when the befuddled police officer couldn’t figure out who to ticket. A previous documentary on the  Hensel twins revealed that while both Hensel twins had to pass the written portion of the driving test separately, because each controls half the body one twin steers while the other works the pedals. No doubt, they’ve got to share steering duties on a moped while only one works the throttle.

Join the Hensels this fall for what’s sure to be a tangled dose of reality televsion.

Via TLC.

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Half Guilty Featured in Maxim!

(click for a larger version!)

Via Maxim, May 2012 pg. 22.

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Ask Maxim

If you turn to the page 22 of the May issue of Maxim magazine, you’d find a published abstract of Half Guilty in the form of an answer to the reader-submitted Ask Maxim question “If a conjoined twin commits a homicide, is his other half also convicted of the crime?” While it’s no footnote to a 9th Circuit opinion, it’s got about as much authority as a law review article. Here’s the full submission, excerpted  for the column:

1) If a conjoined twin commits a homicide, is their other half also convicted of the crime?
Probably not. Though there has never been an American court ruling on the legal personhood of conjoined twins, a court would likely consider them distinct individuals. To convict someone of a crime in this country, the state must show that she committed a guilty act with a guilty mind. Unless a prosecutor can prove that both twins committed the guilty act (murder) with the guilty mind (intent to commit murder), the state could not convict them both.

2) Can they be considered a witness for testimony?
Yes, the court could compel one twin to testify against the other. While many states recognize a privilege from compelling spouses to testify against each other, there are few, if any, that recognize such a privilege between siblings. However, there are very rare cases of conjoined twins with fused brains; if a court viewed such twins as one person in the eyes of the law, that person could not be compelled to testify against herself under the Fifth Amendment.

3) Are there any known cases of this ever happening?
The 17th century Italian conjoined twins Lazarus and Joannes Baptista Colloredo purportedly skirted a murder conviction thanks to their conjoinment. Authorities arrested Lazarus after he stabbed a man to death for teasing him and his parasitic twin brother. Though he was sentenced to death the court granted him a reprieve, finding that they could not execute Lazarus without killing his innocent conjoined twin.

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Conscripted and Conjoined

After traveling the world, exhibiting their intertwined bodies, Chang and Eng Bunker settled down in Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to farm their land and raise families with their wives (sisters to boot). Chang and Eng became quite wealthy — amassing large estates, tended to by some 33 slaves, and large families. In 1865, the throes of the American Civil War, Union General George Stoneman raided the state and set up a lottery to draft all able-bodied men over the age of 18.  Whether Chang and Eng Bunker would be considered “able-bodied” for purposes of the Selective Service System is another question (the regulations require that even disabled men who live at home must register with Selective Service if they can reasonably leavetheir homes and move about independently).

According to Clint Johnson’s 2011 travel companion, Touring the Carolinas’ Civil War Sites, the names of the men were put into a lottery wheel. Eng’s name was chosen for conscription but not that of his brother Chang. Besides the fact that both Chang and Eng were ardent Southern sympathizers, Stoneman would have had a hell of a time trying to enlist one brother without the other due to the fusion of the conjoined twins’ livers.

As Rebekah Brooks concludes the story: “Neither brother ended up fighting in the war although both of their eldest sons, Christopher Wren Bunker and Stephen Bunker, joined and fought for the Confederacy. Both Christopher and Stephen survived the war but Christopher was captured and spent nearly a year as a prisoner of war at Camp Chase in Ohio in August of 1864.”

Via Civil War Days and the Smithsonian.

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Neutral Milk Hotel – Two Headed Boy

Two-headed boy
All floating in glass
The sun it is past
Now it’s blacker than black
I can hear as you tap on your jar

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Let’s Do It

 

The Dutch in old Amsterdam do it
Not to mention the Fins
Folks in Siam do it – think of Siamese twins

Via Cole Porter.

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Dicephalic Parapagus Conjoined Twins

Dicephalic Parapagus Conjoined Twins
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