Judge rules in favor of Terri Schiavo on nutrition stay

Michael Schiavo challenges judge’s order; Terri moved back to Woodside Hospice in Pinellas Park

CLEARWATER (FBW)-A pair of judicial decisions the last week in October made clear Terri Schiavo will not die of starvation or dehydration as long as there are appeals pending before the courts.

Handing down a decision Oct. 29, Pinellas Circuit Judge George W. Greer ruled the 40-year-old disabled woman would continue to receive nutrition and hydration through a tube until her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, have exhausted all appeals in the case.

Greer’s motion came on the heels of a Florida Supreme Court decision Oct. 27 granting Florida Gov. Jeb Bush until Nov. 29 to appeal their decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The woman at the center of the legal debate, Terri Schiavo, has been in what some doctors consider a persistent vegetative state since 1990 when she collapsed under suspicious circumstances in her home. Her husband and legal guardian Michael Schiavo, who has fathered two children with his live-in girlfriend, has sought the removal of his wife’s feeding tube for nearly a decade.

Terri Schiavo’s parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, have long maintained their daughter has not received the rehabilitation and care she requires. Their attorneys have unsuccessfully filed motions on their behalf and the behalf Terri Schiavo’s siblings challenging Michael Schiavo’s guardianship and asking to be able to care for Terri themselves.

David Gibbs, an attorney for the Schindlers, asked Greer Oct. 27 to extend a stay he issued against removing Terri’s feeding tube when he dismissed arguments Oct. 22 asking for a new ruling in the case. That stay was to expire Dec. 6.

Oct. 22 Greer dismissed a new argument that Terri, a practicing Roman Catholic, would want to adhere to a newly publicized teaching by the pope that the removal of a feeding tube is against church teachings and would also violate her right to religious freedom.

The Schindlers are appealing Greer’s decision.

George Felos, Michael Schiavo’s attorney, told reporters Oct. 29 it might be time to advise Schiavo to end his quest to remove his wife’s feeding tube, calling remedies through the judicial system “a waste of time.”

However, Nov. 1, Felos filed a motion with the 2nd District Court of Appeals asking them to vacate the Greer’s stay and to expedite the motion to vacate.

Bob Schindler told the Tampa Tribune Schiavo and Felos could be more aware of what’s at stake.

“Eventually they are going to get to the point that maybe [they will see] what they are trying to do is just wrong,” Schindler said.

The Florida Supreme Court Oct. 21 declined a request for a re-hearing in the case about the constitutionality of the law allowing Terri to live.

Without comment, the seven justices declined a request from Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to reconsider their Sept. 23 decision in which they overturned Terri’s Law. In that decision the high court ruled that a law allowing the governor to order the resumption of Schiavo’s feeding and hydration tube was unconstitutional.

Bush is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In related news, Terri Schiavo was recently moved from Park Place Assisted Living in Clearwater, where she has lived since last year, back to Woodside Hospice in Pinellas Park where she lived previousy until the hospice completed renovations. http://www.floridabaptistwitness.com/3464.article

Judge extends stay on removal of Florida woman's feeding tube
Posted on Wed, Feb. 23, 2005

The Orlando Sentinel

CLEARWATER, Fla. - (KRT) - A judge Wednesday barred the removal of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube for 48 more hours, while in a surprise move the state's social welfare agency asked for an indefinite delay to investigate potential abuse of the severely brain-damaged woman.

Pinellas Circuit Judge George Greer's decision to bar Michael Schaivo from removing his wife's feeding tube until at least 5 p.m. Friday was unrelated to a request by the state Department of Children & Families to intervene in the closely watched right-to-die case.

In fact, Greer refused to hear DCF's lawyer or consider her motion, saying it was not properly placed on his court calendar. Rather, he said, he needed more time to decide whether Bob and Mary Schindler should be allowed to pursue more legal and medical options to prove their daughter is not in a vegetative state and could recover.

But DCF's sudden entry in the case emboldened the Schindlers, who have been embroiled in a seven-year legal battle against their son-in-law over their daughter's care and end-of-life wishes.

"We are really elated. Forty-eight hours to us right now seems like six years," said Bob Schindler. "We've been complaining and complaining and complaining that Terri has been abused, but it's fallen on deaf ears."

But George Felos, an attorney for Michael Schiavo, said DCF's sudden interest in the case "reeked of political arm-twisting" by politicians in Tallahassee who ran out of options after Terri's Law was struck down as unconstitutional. Enacted in October 2003, the law empowered the governor to order Terri Schiavo's feeding tube re-inserted six days after it was removed by court order.

Over the past six years, Felos said the department has investigated "scores" of anonymous calls to its abuse hot line alleging abuse against Terri Schiavo, but not one of them has ever been substantiated.

"Lo and behold, all of a sudden, after six years DCF radically changes its position and decides that there is a need to intervene," Felos said. "Anyone can see what clearly is happening. The governor and the Legislature - the politicians - have tried to do an end around the court system. They did it in October 2003, and that's what they're trying to do now."

For days now, anti-abortion activist Randall Terry, who is coordinating protest efforts for the Schindlers, has been urging Bush to declare Schiavo a ward of the state and have DCF take over her guardianship.

On Wednesday, Jacob DiPietre, a spokesman for Gov. Jeb Bush, would not say what the governor knew about DCF's investigation, or whether he asked the agency to intervene.

But he said the governor remains committed to "doing whatever he can within the law to help Terri." He also said DCF has an obligation to "protect children and vulnerable adults and to respond to allegations of abuse or neglect."

"If there is an investigation, the only way it can be started is by a call to the (DCF) hotline," DiPietre said.

Earlier Wednesday, Bush told reporters he was exploring options to block the removal of the tube but added that there was only so much he could do. "I will do whatever I can within the laws of our state to protect this woman's life," he said.

Exactly what DCF is investigating was unclear Wednesday. Kelly McKibben, general counsel for the agency's District 7 headquartered in Orlando, asked the judge to seal DCF's motion, which calls for the agency to intervene and requests an indefinite delay on the tube's removal. A clerk in the probate division said the judge said he would review the motion to see if it was required by law to be filed confidentially.

For years, the Schindlers have repeatedly suggested that their son-in-law strangled their daughter the night she collapsed. That's why, they've asserted, she lost consciousness, and suffered the irreversible brain damage that has left her in what doctors say is a persistent vegetative state.

That's also why, they've said, Michael Schiavo won't provide the treatment that would allow her to recover. He doesn't want her as a witness against him.

More recently, the Schindlers have blasted their daughter's care at the hospice where she has lived for five years. On Tuesday, one of their spiritual advisers, Brother Paul O'Donnell, listed a litany of their complaints: At the hospice, he said, Terri Schiavo is kept in isolation and is denied music, visitors, cards, flowers, fresh air, and even lotions and dental care.

With the exception of the limits on visitors, Felos called the charges "lies and deceptions" aimed at `demonizing and slandering" his client. He also noted they've been reviewed and rejected by the courts who have labeled his client a devoted and loving husband.

And at least one allegation of abuse came from Michael Schiavo. In 2004, he banned all visitors from the Clearwater nursing home where she lives after an aide found what appeared to be needle marks on his wife's arms after the Schindlers visited March 29. Police investigated and found no evidence of foul play.

Meanwhile, Bush and Florida lawmakers were flooded with thousands of e-mails and phone calls from individuals and groups urging they take some action to keep Schiavo alive.

Towson Fraser, a spokesman for House Speaker Allan Bense, R-Panama City, said his office had received at least 10,000 e-mails and more than 300 phone calls by Wednesday afternoon.

Many were like that sent by Kelley O'Neal of Connersville, Ind.

"I am fed up with courts acting like dictators and tyrants," O'Neal wrote. "Please, you must take action now - do whatever it takes to save Terri Schindler-Schiavo from being starved to death."

Legislation filed earlier by Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala and Sen. Steve Wise, R-Jacksonville, would prohibit a court from ordering a feeding tube removed from an incompetent person, unless the individual had prepared a document allowing such action.

The Republican-controlled Legislature is scheduled to begin its two-month regular session March 8.

<Back To Terri Schiavo Main Page

Theresa Marie Schiavo's Bone Scan

State-Funded Agency to Probe Claim of Spousal Abuse in Terri Schiavo Case

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