Eli Stutsman is a practicing attorney in Portland, Oregon. He was the lead author of the Oregon Death with Dignity Act in 1993 and served as the lead political and legal strategist during the 1994 campaign to pass the law and again during the 1997 campaign to defeat its repeal. Stutsman successfully defended the Death with Dignity law in the first federal court challenge spanning 1994 to 1997. See Lee v. State of Oregon,107 F.3d 1382 (9th Cir. 1997), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 927 (1997). He later prevailed against the United States Attorney General and the Drug Enforcement Administration in a second round of federal court litigation spanning 2001-2006, in which he won an injunction against the United States Attorney General on behalf of a physician and a pharmacist, both threatened with criminal sanctions. On January 17, 2006, the United States Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of the physician, pharmacist, and the State of Oregon. See Oregon v. Ashcroft, 192 F.Supp.2d 1077 (D.Or. 2002), 368 F.3d 1118 (9th Cir. 2004), Gonzales v. Oregon, 126 S.Ct. 904 (2006).
Stutsman has been interviewed by David Broder of The Washington Post, Ellen Goodman for an article in the Boston Globe, Diane Rehm on The Diane Rehm Show, and Nina Totenberg of National Public Radio, among others, and has also appeared before the National Press Club.
Stutsman co-founded Oregon Right to Die in 1993, the political action committee that passed the Oregon Death with Dignity Act into law. He was the founding President (serving ten years as President), of the Oregon Death with Dignity Legal Defense and Education Center in 1995 (which later changed its name to The Death with Dignity National Center), as well as the Oregon Death with Dignity Political Action Fund, founded in 2001. In 2007, Stutsman authored the Washington Death with Dignity Act, passed into law by Washington voters on November 4, 2008, and at various times he consulted on the Vermont Death with Dignity Act passed into law on May 20, 2013.
Listen to Stutsman’s 2014 interview on OPB’s Think Out Loud recorded on the 20-year anniversary of the passage of the Oregon Death with Dignity Act. Learn more from his articles in the Summer 2013 American Bar Association’s GPSolo Magazine and the Spring 2015 issue of Trial Lawyer magazine, the quarterly journal of the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association. To understand how Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act is providing a public policy platform 22 years after its passage, read Stutsman’s 2016 assessment, The Oregon Death with Dignity Act: A Policy Platform for the Right to Die Movement.
Key practice areas
Appeals in state in federal courts. In daily practice, Stutsman has achieved significant success as an appellate attorney, including “impact litigation.” Learn more…
Defending physicians, pharmacists and nurses. Stutsman also represents licensed healthcare providers, including:
- pharmacists and
in medical licensing and DEA Registration matters before state licensing boards (including the Oregon Medical Board, the Oregon Board of Pharmacy, the Oregon State Board of Nursing) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Learn more…
Reforming public policy
In addition to the day-to-day practice of law, Stutsman has been the lead author on significant legislation. Learn more…
Stutsman has also co-founded organizations necessary to political reform, including the Death With Dignity National Center where he served as the founding President for ten years and continues to serve today on the Board of Directors.