Lee Daniel Crocker, <email@example.com>, writes re
Dr. Kevorkian's recent conviction for murder:
> This particular case was not that simple. The ALS patient in this
> case was physically capable of making the willful act necessary to
> end his own life (when appropriately attached to an apparatus for
> this that Dr. K uses frequently), but in this case he did not--the
> Dr. actually took that act. "Consent" is not so clear here. If
> he was capable of expressing a desire to die, and capable of doing
> the act, why didn't he? I certainly don't think suicide should be
> a crime, even when assisted, but if a patient /can/ perform the
> final act himself but /will/ not, then I think his verbal consent
> is of dubious value, and it is appropriate for a jury to look into
> questions such as whether the family pressured the doctor into
> performing the procedure, or whether the doctor's own agenda was
> better served than the patient.
It's also worth noting that Kevorkian badly bungled his trial strategy. He was not able to use his previous attorney because of Kevorkian's insistence on representing himself so that he could make speeches directly to the jury. The lawyers he did have assisting him made a number of errors, including stipulating that the element of "malice" necessary for a conviction of murder need only entail a desire to see the victim dead, without the aspect of hatred or desire to cause harm which is normally required. I saw a bit of Kevorkian's attempt at lawyering on TV and he was utterly incompetent (unsurprisingly). He was not able to get the relatives of the victim onto the stand due to a lack of creativity in exploiting the hearsay exceptions (the earlier stipulation hurt badly here as well).
Unfortunately it appears that the Michigan legal system is strongly opposed to Kevorkian and has been trying to get him convicted for years. His (original) attorney stated in no uncertain terms that Jack Kevorkian would _never_ get a conviction overturned in the Michigan appellate courts, under any circumstances. At this point it seems virtually certain that the elderly Kevorkian will spend the rest of his life in prison.