People v. Kevorkian
447 Mich. 436, 527 N.W.2d 714 (1994)

  • Kevorkian was a doctor. Two people with terminal illnesses came to him and asked him for help committing suicide. He provided them with drugs and information and they were successful.
  • Kevorkian was arrested and charged with murder.
  • The Trial Court dismissed the charges. The prosecutor appealed.
    • The Trial Court found that assisted suicide was not a crime in Michigan.
  • The Appellate Court reinstated the charges. Kevorkian appealed.
    • The Appellate Court looked to People v. Roberts (178 N.W. 690 (1920)), in which a man gave his wife some poison so she could kill herself. Roberts argued that since suicide isn’t a crime, assisting someone can’t be murder (there is no murder committed). However, in that case the court found that it is possible to be guilty of murdering someone, even if they request that you do so.
  • The Michigan Supreme Court reversed.
    • The Michigan Supreme Court found that it was a matter of how much participation the defendant had.
      • If the defendant was an active participant and actually administered the poison, that would be murder.
      • If the defendant was a more passive participant and only supplied the poison, then he is not.
  • Later Michigan enacted a Statute that explicitly made assisted suicide a crime.