Minnesota

Current law regarding assisted suicide

Whoever intentionally advises, encourages, or assists another in taking the other’s own life may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 15 years or to payment of a fine of not more than $30,000 or both,
and
Whoever intentionally advises, encourages, or assists another who attempts but fails to take the other’s own life may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than seven years or to payment of a fine of not more than $14,000 or both.
(Minn. Stat. § 609.215)

Court cases

Parts of a state law that make it illegal to encourage or advise suicide are unconstitutional, and the conviction of a former Faribault nurse who urged two people to kill themselves is reversed, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.  The high court sent the case against William Francis Melchert-Dinkel back to district court.  (March 19, 2014)
Minnesota Supreme Court Decision (March 19, 2014)

Decision in Minnesota v. William Francis Melchert-Dinkel (July 17, 2012)
(See below for news article about the case)

Articles

“Faribault nurse’s suicide-assist conviction reversed”
(Twin Cities — March 19, 2014)
Parts of a state law that make it illegal to encourage or advise suicide are unconstitutional, and the conviction of a former Faribault nurse who urged two people to kill themselves is reversed, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.  The high court sent the case against William Francis Melchert-Dinkel back to district court.

“Minnesota Supreme Court agrees to hear assisted suicide case”
(Star Tribune — December 26, 2013)
The fight over which charges — if any — can be pressed against Final Exit Network and two of its members in connection with the 2007 suicide of an Apple Valley woman is headed to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

“Minn. prosecutors appeal ruling in assisted-suicide case against Final Exit Network”
(The Republic — April 4, 2013)
Minnesota prosecutors said they are appealing a judge’s decision that the state’s law against “advising” suicide is unconstitutional.

“Faribault: Ex-nurse fights convictions for assisting suicides online”
(Twin Cities.com-Pioneer Press — December 21, 2012)
William Melchert-Dinkel, 50, of Faribault was convicted last year on two counts of aiding suicide. His attorney is asking the Minnesota Supreme Court to overturn those convictions. in court documents filed Wednesday, Dec. 19, attorney Terry Watkins said Melchert-Dinkel did not directly participate in the suicides of an English man and a Canadian woman.
In Melchert-Dinkel’s 2011 conviction, the judge wrote, “The court finds that defendant’s speech imminently incited the victims to commit suicide, and can be described as ‘lethal advocacy,’ which is analogous to the category of unprotected speech known as ‘fighting words’ and ‘imminent incitement of lawlessness.’”

“Ex-Nurse Wants Aiding-Suicide Conviction Reversed”
(CBS News — December 19, 2012)
An attorney for a former nurse convicted of going online and encouraging two people to kill themselves says his client was merely supporting his alleged victims and had no influence on their actions.
William Melchert-Dinkel was convicted last year on two counts of aiding suicide. His attorney is asking the Minnesota Supreme Court to overturn those convictions.

“Minnesota: Final Exit Network Argues Assisted Suicide Law Violates Free Speech Rights in Court”
Members of a national right-to-die group are challenging Minnesota’s assisted-suicide law, saying it violates constitutional rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association….Final Exit members claim they do not encourage suicide, but that the act of giving information and emotional support could be interpreted as “encouraging” under Minnesota law that makes it a felony for someone to intentionally assist, advise or encourage suicide.
(Not Dead Yet — December 19, 2012)

“Guardians can’t end life support, judge rules”
(Star Tribune — October 18, 2012)
Guardians can’t order their wards removed from life support, according to a Thursday court ruling. “Simply stated, if the Legislature intended to give a guardian the power to end the ward’s life, it would have explicitly done so,” according to Hennepin County District Judge Jay Quam.

“Ex-nurse’s conviction for aiding suicides upheld”
(Star Tribune — July 17, 2012)
The First Amendment does not protect the “morbid, predatory behavior” of a former nurse convicted of using the Internet to urge two people to kill themselves, the Minnesota Court ruled Tuesday. 
The court unanimously upheld William Melchert-Dinkel’s conviction for assisting suicide, a felony under Minnesota law.