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Cybercrime, Insanity Pleas and the Right to Die: A Guest Panel Discussion

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Jon Hansen

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"However, and here is where there is considerable gray area, the law according to Wehrwein “doesn’t specifically address situations involving communication via the Internet.” This as it turns out is the basis upon which some legal experts (including Melchert-Dinkel’s lawyer Terry Watkins) have suggested that freedom of speech issues could play a role in the case." from August 26th, 2010 post "Cyber War and the Emergence of the Borderless Criminal: Why the Melchert-Dinkel Serial Killer Case Should Be a Slam Dunk . . . For the Prosecution" Despite the legal posturing in which everything from a violation of his First Amendment right regarding free speech, to the apparent vagueness of Minnesota's assisted suicide law being thrown at the courts by William Merlchert-Dinkel's attorney Terry A. Watkins, it has all boiled down to what is tantamount to the equivalent of a Hail Mary pass in football . . . an insanity plea. As outlined in my November 5th post "Melchert-Dinkel Insanity Plea Not Likely To Succeed (But Did He Counsel Children In Taking Their Own Lives?)," there are numerous reasons why the insanity plea is unlikely to be successful. And even though I can hear my grandmother’s admonishment that one should never count their chickens before they hatch, I wanted to examine the far-ranging consequences of a conviction including its impact in terms of establishing legal precedence within the virtual realms of the Internet and, the lingering effect it will likely have on the right to die and assisted suicide laws both domestically as well as globally. In this 60 minute special in which I will be joined by a guest panel that will include NCR Distinguished Professor of Law and Technology, Susan Brenner, we will peel back the layers of what are the seemingly contradictory elements of a complex case and assess the impact that a conviction (or acquittal) will have on our laws and personal rights and freedoms.

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