Kevin Bradley of Mankato and Edmund Ballou of Naperville, Ill., and the Florida-based Final Exit Network filed their lawsuit Tuesday (05/18/21) in U.S. District Court in St. Paul against Sheriff James Stuart and County Attorney Tony Palumbo in an effort to prevent investigators from looking in a backpack and duffel bag that were seized from them with state court permission on May 4 at the 37-year-old woman’s Columbia Heights home.

Along with asking the federal court to issue a temporary injunction that would halt any further investigation by county authorities and prevent either man’s prosecution, the suit wants a “final judgment” that the state’s law banning assisted suicide is unconstitutional because “it criminalizes speech that enables a suicide in the absence of any physical assistance in suicide,” the suit reads.

Ballou, 72, said Thursday that law enforcement “did what they needed to do” when they targeted the meeting with the woman and confiscated the bags; however, “I think they are terribly mistaken.”

The County Attorney’s Office declined Thursday to comment on the specific allegations made by the Final Exit guides, but its spokeswoman, Elizabeth Mohr, said the office intends to respond in writing to the court in the coming weeks.

As for whether charges will be filed, Mohr said investigators have yet to turn over the case for review by prosecutors, and “we will not speculate on whether or not this case merits charges until we have seen the investigative file.”  The Sheriff’s Office declined to comment on the suit.

In making their case that speech alone promoting assisted suicide should not be a crime, Ballou and Bradley pointed out in their suit that state law would make it a crime should anyone hand a copy of the widely read book “Final Exit” to someone contemplating suicide because that could be construed as assisting someone with ending their life.

By having this law on the books, the suit reads, “the state maintains that a librarian is guilty under the Minnesota statute for showing a library patron where to find ‘Final Exit‘ on the shelves, provided only that the patron first mentioned he or she was contemplating suicide.”          …….