the Kevorkian Papers

He has been hailed as the champion of the right-to-die movement and denounced as a ghoulish cheerleader for suicide. Jack Kevorkian has helped 20 people kill themselves, and now that he has been acquitted in the assisted suicide of Patient No. 17, he says he has only just begun. JACK LESSENBERRY enters the strange world of Dr. Death.
I want to be convicted!” Jack Kevorkian howls. After sitting calmly in Detroit Recorder’s Court all day while his lawyer and the prosecution haggled over selecting a jury, he has been ignited by a deputy who ordered him to take his hat off after he left the cavernous basement courtroom.

Now, out of public sight, in a drab little windowless room, he jams his porkpie onto his head. “I should walk up to the bench just like in the movie Ghandi and say, I have violated your law and if you have any respect for your system you will give me the harshest penalty possible,” he says, finger jutting, eyes flashing. Kevorkian’s pipelayer father originally fitted him with the name of an ancient Armenian warrior, Murad, and genetic memory seems to be kicking in.

Four high-priced jury consultants who have donated their time and flown at their own expense to Detroit stare with alarm at the apostle of physician-assisted suicide, who is yelling loudly enough to be heard through the closed oak door, startling a skulking photographer. Dr. Death pitching a fit is not a pretty picture. Paulette Taylor’s jaw actually sags at the sight. Her boss, Howard Varinsky, and Paul Tieger are caught in the headlights. Only Dr. Louis Genevie, who looks like a Weimar finance minister –round glasses, thinning hair, a sober suit–manages a tiny smile.

The first time they met Jack Kevorkian, this very morning, they found him warm and witty. In the courtroom, he has shown genuine tenderness to several of the “survivors” of his suicide patients, as they call themselves. But the consultants have never seen the inventor of the suicide machine, whom most of them revere as a hero of modern medicine, in what his attorney, alter ego, and part-time parent, Geoffrey Nels Fieger, calls his “real asshole” mode.

Taylor says timidly that she thinks they have a good jury, that they have helped stack the jury box with supporters.

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