Friday, October 26, 2012

Van Noteriety

Susan Elizabeth Van Note was admitted to the Missouri Bar Association in 1993, and the Kansas Bar Association the year after. She was an experienced estate planner whose website advocated the importance of estate planning. Ms. Van Note implored prospective clients that
[n]ow is the time to make the meaningful plans that will empower you to make a difference in the lives of your loved ones.
Ms. Van Note is currently being charged with the murder of her father, William Van Note, having used a forged power of attorney in order to pull the plug after he survived being shot---by Ms. Van Note. She is charged with murder by legal form.

A fairly succinct summary of the alleged crime is found here.

It’s not hard to see why this all is so interesting, though I’d make the argument this isn’t an ironic case. Irony, in its strict definition, requires not merely a discrepancy between the overt and the covert, but in fact a contradiction. Liz Van Note was an estate planner. It isn’t ironic that she used a forged estate planning document as a murder weapon anymore than it would be ironic for a dentist to use uncomfortable orthodontic equipment to keep their kids quiet at night. It is a perverse and a gross misuse of her legal position, a violation of her responsibilities, yes, but also strangely appropriate. She, like the hypothetical dentist, used the tools at hand.
Liz Van Note isn’t guilty of wholly contradicting the principle theme of her profession, but rather taking those principles to a horrifying extreme. When Liz Van Note plans her estates, she plans the hell out of them.