The following comes from a special dispatch from one of our readers on June 10
A judge denied a temporary restraining order on Thursday, allowing California’s assisted suicide law to go into effect as scheduled, while scheduling a preliminary injunction hearing for June 29. The Life Legal Defense Foundation filed for the TRO against the End of Life Options Act on Wednesday and appeared in Riverside Superior Court on Thursday morning before the Honorable Daniel Ottolia.
Life Legal represents multiple physicians and the American Academy of Medical Ethics who are challenging the act on behalf of their patients. They argue that because the act creates exceptions in the existing California homicide and suicide statutes and removes certain legal protections from those deemed to have a “terminal disease,” it violates the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution and discriminates against those with “terminal” diagnoses.
Judge Ottolia denied the TRO noting that, because of the 15-day waiting period in the End of Life Options Act, no lethal drugs could be prescribed before June 24. Legally, for a judge to grant a TRO or other ex parte proceeding, there must be an immediate risk of harm.
The Riverside County deputy district attorney, Kelli Catlett, said that there should not be any further hearing on the matter. She argued that the district attorney’s office is the wrong place to challenge the law because of the principle of the separation of powers. She said that the DA merely enforces laws and that, with act coming into effect, certain actions against those deemed to have a “terminal disease” will no longer be crimes and her office will no longer have the power to prosecute the perpetrators. “The DA’s office has no ability to enforce the law, because the law does not exist,” she said.
Life Legal disagreed, saying that the court has the power to prevent the harm threatened by the Act coming into effect. Judge Ottolia agreed to schedule another hearing. The deputy DA asked for 45 days to prepare. Life Legal asked for the hearing to be sooner or for the TRO to be issued, as people would be in danger if the hearing were to be postponed that long. Judge Ottolia scheduled the hearing for June 29, to allow the district attorney sufficient time to respond. At this hearing, Life Legal will argue that the court should prohibit the district attorney’s office from recognizing the act’s exceptions to the homicide and suicide laws in making enforcement decisions.