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About Final Exit Network:

Final Exit Network is a registered non profit organization that operates throughout the United States. (We do not operate outside of the U.S., however you may go to the World Federation of Right to Die Society's website for international information.)  

We believe in death with dignity and an individual's right to self determination. We are the only organization that publicly provides education on all end of life choices as well as a compassionate presence to those who are suffering from incurable diseases and have chosen to end their suffering. We do not put an artificial requirement for an individual to be certified as likely to die in six months. Suffering does not recognize that restriction and neither do we. 

To ensure that the maximum amount of your money is used to alleviate suffering we operate virtually, conducting our administrative business as much as possible through technology. Outreach to individuals seeking information from us is done entirely through volunteers and almost all our travel is done for that exclusive purpose. 

Final Exit Network is a national, nonprofit, 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt corporation.

Gifts and memberships to Final Exit Network are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Website:      www.finalexitnetwork.org
Email:          finalexitnetworkcontact@gmail.com
Phone:         (866) 654-9156

Final Exit Network Mailing Address:
                    Final Exit Network
                    P.O. Box 10071
                    Tallahassee, FL 32302

Hear more about 
our mission 
WE ARE NOT A SUICIDE HOTLINE. IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING A PERSONAL CRISIS, 
PLEASE CALL THE NATIONAL SUICIDE HOTLINE NOW -
By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor 
at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7; a live chat contact is also available.

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TWO OPTIONS FOR GIVING - BY MAIL or ONLINE
for giving to fund the Minnesota appeal:
You can give by sending a check to:
     Final Exit Network
     P.O. Box 10071
     Tallahassee, FL 32302

Our online donation payment option. Note that your donation is for the Minnesota Appeal.
Click the button at left to proceed to donation page. Follow the instructions below for easy online donation. 
On June 20, 2015, the Final Exit Network board voted to mount an appeal to reverse the recent Minnesota court decision.
We believe that our exit guide services, our belief that death with dignity is a personal choice, and that end-of-life education are all 
protected by the first amendment of the United States. The first step for this appeal is through the Minnesota Court of Appeals. 

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Top Stories
MONDAY, AUGUST 24, 2015
HASTINGS, MN
DAKOTA COUNTY COURTHOUSE

2:25PM

HASTINGS, Minnesota, August 24, 2015 — Final Exit Network was 
sentenced to pay a $30,000 fine today for “assisting in a suicide” in connection 
with the 2007 self-deliverance of a member. 

Judge Christian Wilton sentenced the organization to the maximum fine. 
Final Exit Network was convicted on May 14 of assisting in a suicide, a 
felony punishable by a fine of $30,000, and of interfering with a body or the scene 
of a death with the intent to mislead the coroner, a misdemeanor, which is 
punishable by a fine of $3,000. 

It had been previously reported many times that the maximum fine faced by 
Final Exit Network was $33,000. However, during the sentencing hearing, the 
State elected not to seek the separate $3,000 fine for the misdemeanor. 

The State also sought the payment of $2,975.63 as “restitution” to the 
family of Doreen Dunn, 57, as the “victims” of the “crime.” The amount 
represented the sum spent by Mark Dunn, the decedent’s husband for her burial 
and headstone. Testimony at the trial indicated Dunn had long-standing plans to 
separate from his wife and move from their home. Ironically, his belongings were 
in boxes on the day of her death, waiting to be moved out the next day.  

While the Network might have objected to the payment of “restitution,” the 
organization’s attorney, Robert Rivas, said to the court, “It is a family’s sacred 
obligation to pay to bury their loved ones, but if Mr. Dunn doesn’t want to have to 
pay for his wife’s burial, Final Exit Network will pay it for him.” 

“We intend to vigorously appeal this for two reasons. One is the importance 
of protecting all Americans’ free speech rights from encroachment by the 
government, but the second is to continue our advocacy for competent adults to 
have the right to make their own end-of-life decisions,” said Janis Landis, the 
Network’s president, who attended the hearing. Gary Wederspahn, the newest FEN 
board member, who happens to be from Hastings, Minnesota, also attended the 
sentencing hearing. 

Judge Wilton put the Network on “probation” until the fine is paid, and the 
Network would be legally prohibited from providing Exit Guide services while on 
probation. Landis said the Network is unwilling to deny Exit Guide services to 
those in Minnesota for any length of time, and the fine will therefore be paid 
immediately.
< click here
PLEASE NOTE: our email contact has changed to: finalexitnetworkcontact@gmail.com
Questions Answered Concerning Minnesota Appeal
By FEN General Counsel, Robert Rivas

As Final Exit Network’s attorney, I get a lot of questions about the Minnesota appeal. Let me answer some of the best questions for everybody at once.

At the trial in Hastings, Minnesota in May, the not-for-profit corporation — Final Exit Network, Inc., a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) — was convicted of “assisting” in a “suicide,” a felony in Minnesota. Some people wonder whether we need to go to the state Legislature and get the law changed. How could the appeal be successful if the law is not changed first?

The First Amendment trumps state laws. The Court of Appeals of Minnesota and the Supreme Court of Minnesota both have a constitutional duty to hold a Minnesota law void and unenforceable if it is prohibited by the First Amendment as it is written. These courts also must explain to government officials in Minnesota, if they can, how to interpret and apply the statute in the future to avoid violating the First Amendment.

The “law” of a state has two meanings. One is the contents of the state’s statutes, since they are, as we commonly say, the “laws” of the state. Another meaning of “the law” is the combined effect of all applicable sources of legal authority.

In this broader meaning, the Minnesota statute on “assisting” in a “suicide” encompasses the statute plus all controlling sources of authoritative interpretation of the statute (given that all courts and prosecutors in Minnesota are required to follow “the law” as set by the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Courts of both Minnesota and the United States).

The applicable Minnesota statute, section 609.215, subdivision 1, says anyone who “intentionally advises, encourages, or assists another in taking the other's own life" commits a felony. These three words — advising, encouraging, and assisting — have remained in various versions of the statute as it has been amended since 1886.

When Final Exit Network and four of its volunteers were indicted in 2012, the State openly acknowledged that it intended to convict them primarily because they “advised” and “encouraged” a suicide. The defendants appealed and the Court of Appeals ruled (in State v. Final Exit Network) that the statute was unconstitutional in violation of the First Amendment for its prohibition of “advising” and “encouraging” a “suicide,” since those words prohibited only speech, not conduct. In the Final Exit Network case, the Court of Appeals allowed the prosecution to go forward only if the State could prove the defendants “assisted” in a “suicide,” which required tangible assistance — something the Network does not do.

Thus, as of the Court of Appeals’ decision in 2013, "the law" of Minnesota was the statute, plus the Court of Appeals' decision in the Final Exit Network case striking the words "advise" and "encourage" from the law, so the combined effect was that "the law" prohibited only "assisting" in a "suicide." That's when we thought we had won a big victory.

A year later, the Supreme Court of Minnesota decided an unrelated case (in which Final Exit Network filed an amicus, or friend-of-the-court, brief), Melchert-Dinkel v. State. In the 2014 Melchert-Dinkel case, the Supreme Court agreed wholeheartedly with the Court of Appeals’ decision in the Final Exit Network case that the First Amendment protected the right to freedom of speech in the context of discussions about death and dying and the statutory prohibitions against “advising” or “encouraging” a “suicide” were unconstitutional, leaving the statute to be interpreted as if it said anyone who “intentionally . . . assists another in taking the other's own life" commits a felony.

In the Melchert-Dinkel opinion, after 10 pages of explanation of why the First Amendment prohibited the Minnesota statute from making a crime out of “advising” or “encouraging” a “suicide,” the Supreme Court dropped in one sentence that said the word “assisting,” the one part of the statute that survived, could be interpreted to include "speech that 'enables' a suicide."

So this one sentence became a part of “the law” of Minnesota in the broader sense. Final Exit Network’s president, Wendell Stephenson, was the first to warn that the one “enablement” sentence in the Melchert-Dinkel precedent could be a ticking time bomb. Personally, I thought we would succeed in having the bad sentence interpreted extremely narrowly, because if it were to be interpreted broadly, it would basically swallow up the core ruling in the Final Exit Network and Melchert-Dinkel precedents that the First Amendment prohibited the State from making it a crime to "advise" and "encourage" a "suicide." To me it seemed unlikely that one sentence in a case could come back later to eviscerate the central meaning of both of these precedents.

As the day of the Hastings, Minnesota trial approached in 2015, I tried and failed again and again to persuade the trial judge, Christian Wilton, to give a narrow interpretation to the Melchert-Dinkel case’s "enablement" reference. Over our strenuous objection, he instructed the jury that only “assistance” in a “suicide” is a crime in Minnesota, but the concept of “assistance” included any speech that could be construed to "enable" a suicide. 

Judge Wilton put no limitation whatsoever on how to define such incriminating “enablement” speech, so he actually even instructed the jury to convict Final Exit Network based on speech that would have been held to have been protected by the First Amendment in the Final Exit Network and Melchert-Dinkel decisions as "advising" and "encouraging" a "suicide." He literally allowed the "enablement" concept to abolish any and every First Amendment right to say anything about how to die to someone who is contemplating self-deliverance.

Now that we are appealing, some members point out that we are asking the appeals courts to overrule the Supreme Court of Minnesota to the extent it was the Supreme Court of Minnesota itself that ruled (in one stray, seemingly offhand sentence) that “speech that ‘enables’ a suicide” can fall within the definition of "assisting," as that word appears in the statute. So, they say to me, why are you so hopeful of winning the appeal?

The way I look at it, we are asking the appeals courts to enforce their prior holdings that Final Exit Network's speech is protected by the First Amendment and a defendant may be convicted of "assisting" in a suicide only based on proof of a tangible act of assistance in the suicide. 

Which precedent is “the law” of Minnesota, the one where the courts interpreted the statute by enforcing the First Amendment-protected right to free speech, or the one where the courts took away the right? Both precedents are still there, still in plain conflict.

Whether to be pessimistic or optimistic about our chances in the appeal is to choose between a glass being half full or half empty. The appeals courts of Minnesota have said our position is both right and wrong.

But one big trump card remains in Final Exit Network’s side. All the precedents from the Supreme Court of the United States indicate we are right. The Minnesota courts will have to obey those precedents.