Sunday, February 16, 2014
New York Law School's 2013-14 Symposium Issue on "right to die" topics includes an insider's analysis of opinions from the New York courts, authored by former Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals Sol Wachtler. He was the author of a major decision in 1981 for consolidated cases addressing burdens of proof to terminate specific health care measures, including a case where the subject was an incapacitated 83-year old patient on a respirator. In "Right-to-Die Cases: A New York Historical Perspective," he observes:
"These issues were raised during an age of judicial infancy in resolving life-sustaining medical treatment cases. Much of the law we pronounced formed the basis for subsequent legislation, while other decisions demonstrated the need for such legislation. Today we have a more comprehensive body of law on which to rely and we are most grateful to those who have shaped this legislation and jurisprudence. Indeed, perhaps one of the most gratifying results of all of the work described above is that by virtually all accounts these matters are now successfully resolved by the parties involved, with recourse to the courts having become a relatively infrequent occurrence."
Some of you outside of New York might be thinking "Sol Wachtler, that's a familiar name... isn't he the one who...?" A unique biography of the former jurist, who at 80+ is still working hard, most recently as an adjunct professor in constitutional law at Touro Law School, is here.