Jack Kevorkian is to be freed June 1  after having served eight years in the poisoning of a man with Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Known as Dr. Death, Kevorkian is about to get a new lease on life — one that may bring speaker fees of up to $100,000 as he advocates for the legalization of assisted suicide, according to his attorney. According to his attorney, Mayer Morganroth, the man who once bought his clothes from thrift shops, drove old cars and lived in inexpensive apartments has several offers to speak about legalizing assisted suicide for between $50,000 and $100,000.
Morganroth would not name who made the offers or whether Kevorkian has accepted them. “He’s not real keen on the idea, but there are bills to be paid,” Morganroth said. While a $100,000 speaking engagement is high, it’s not unheard of in an industry that closely guards fees.
Former President Bill Clinton makes $125,000 to $350,000 per appearance, according to his reports on his wife’s Senate ethics disclosure forms. And filmmaker Ken Burns acknowledged pulling in $50,000 per talk. Kevorkian, who turns 79 six days before his release, has spent more than eight years behind bars. In April 1999, he was imprisoned for 10-25 years for second-degree murder in the 1998 poisoning of Thomas Youk, a 52-year-old Waterford Township man with Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Youk’s death is one of 130 assisted suicides linked to Kevorkian, whose crusade for a person’s right to commit suicide assisted by another rocked the medical and legal establishments in the 1990s. There’s little doubt that Kevorkian is in demand. He reportedly has done an interview with Mike Wallace of CBS’s “60 Minutes” that will air on June 3, and will appear on “Larry King Live” shortly after his release. Morganroth said Kevorkian isn’t accepting money for media appearances and has no interest to do so.
Corrections officials who had hoped for a low-key release aren’t expecting that now. “Some national (media) people said they would rent helicopters if needed to get their ‘money shot’ of him leaving prison,” said Russ Marlan, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections. “We hope not. Some prisoners already think he gets preferential treatment and there are three facilities all in this area. We don’t need a riot over his release.”
Kevorkian’s parole will last two years and includes a provision designed specifically for him: that he not attend any assisted suicides. His other parole conditions are designed to ensure that Kevorkian does not perform in any capacity in which he would become a caregiver for the disabled or elderly — such as an operator of a group home, Marlan said.
“It doesn’t mean he cannot be involved with seniors, but he will have to run employment matters by his parole officer to ensure he is not doing anything inappropriate or that might be viewed as inappropriate,” Marlan said. But Kevorkian says his days of breaking the law for the cause are over. In response to questions from The News last year, Kevorkian said he still believed in assisted suicide where legal, regretted flouting the law and once free, would no longer assist suicides. “Only as a person who will speak out to its legalization,” Kevorkian said. “I will not be involved otherwise.”
Marlan said Kevorkian took the same position at his parole board hearing. “He was asked about his plans after release and if he would continue to violate the law and he said he had no desire to do that but that he had some speaking requests and would be speaking on the issue,” Marlan said. Even Michigan Appeals Judge Jessica Cooper, who sentenced Kevorkian in 1999 with a “no one is above the law” comment, said she doesn’t believe he poses any threat to society. “He served his time and he’s coming out,” Cooper said.
Attorneys have been trying for years to get an early release for Kevorkian, whose efforts — while criticized and illegal — undeniably advanced international dialogue over death and society’s silence on an individual’s right to die under certain conditions. “This is long overdue and we’re just happy to get him out,” said Morganroth, Kevorkian’s attorney. While still fighting health problems, Kevorkian will live with friends at an undisclosed Metro Detroit location, Morganroth said.
Morganroth said Kevorkian’s health has improved in recent months.
Cheryl Eckstein, Founder President Compassionate Healthcare Network (CHN) CHN is a not for profit organization, formed 1990. CHN – 11563 Bailey Cres., Surrey, B.C. V3V 2V4 Canada Phone – 604 582 3844 Visit us at / www.chninternational.com/default.html CHN is member of the World Federation of Doctors Who Respect Human Life (WFDWRHL) Dr. Karl Gunning, Pres.. [22May07, Mike Martindale, The Detroit News, http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070522/METRO/705220387]