Minnesota Supreme Court Agrees To Hear Assisted Suicide Case

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The Minnesota Supreme Court will consider the case of a national right-to-die group accused of playing a role in the 2007 suicide of an Apple Valley woman.

The high court agreed to hear Dakota County prosecutors' appeal of a Minnesota Court of Appeals ruling in September that a state law prohibiting advising or encouraging suicide was unconstitutional on free speech grounds, the Star Tribune reported Friday (http://strib.mn/JhC7zY ). The Appeals Court, however, sent charges of aiding and abetting suicide against the Florida-based group Final Exit Network and two members back to a district court for trial.

The Supreme Court also agreed in an order dated Dec. 17 to hear the cross-appeal of Final Exit Network, which says all of the charges are unconstitutional. The high court did not set a date for oral arguments.

The high court also stayed all proceedings in the Final Exit case pending its ruling in the separate case of William Melchert-Dinkel, of Faribault, an ex-nurse who was convicted in 2011 of "advising and encouraging" the suicides of a man in England and a teenager in Canada. The Court of Appeals upheld his conviction last year. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in May.

Robert Rivas, an attorney for Final Exit, said the group believes the Appeals Court decision was correct.

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