More MS news articles for Oct 2001

Dr. Kevorkian appeals conviction for televised death

His current lawyer claims his counsel then was ineffective and his rights were violated.

Oct. 8, 2001.
By Andis Robeznieks,
AMNews staff.

Lawyers for Jack Kevorkian, MD, argued before Michigan Appellate judges Sept. 11 in an effort to either get his 1999 second-degree murder conviction dismissed or get him a new trial.

Mayer Morganroth, Dr. Kevorkian's attorney, maintains his client had ineffective counsel in the first trial, and that his Fifth, Ninth and 14th Amendment rights had been violated.

Dr. Kevorkian was convicted after "60 Minutes" aired a videotape of him injecting potassium chloride into Thomas Youk, who had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

"Our Supreme Court told him, if you directly inject another person with poison, that's murder," said Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Anica Letica. "And that's what he did, and then dared us to charge him on national television."

Morganroth argues that Dr. Kevorkian's original attorneys never pursued as a defense the possibility Youk may have died from his illness and not the injection.

Also, he said Youk's Eighth Amendment rights were violated when he was not allowed to die on his own terms. "When the government requires a person to live when they have irremediable pain, that's cruel and unusual punishment."

A court decision is not expected for two to six months, but Letica predicted the conviction would stand and noted that Dr. Kevorkian was convicted of murder -- not assisted suicide.

"Euthanasia is murder," Letica said. "Assisted suicide is different than active euthanasia. The person who participates in an assisted suicide provides the means. But here he's the person who participated in the final act which resulted in death."

Dr. Kevorkian is serving a 10- to 25-year sentence. Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a decision to dismiss Dr. Kevorkian's libel suit against the AMA and the Michigan State Medical Society after officials with the organizations referred to him as a "killer" and a "reckless instrument of death."