Skip to comments.Florida AG intervenes in Schiavo lawsuit [Crist CHOOSES DEATH. What "Right to refuse" for Terri?]
Posted on 10/05/2003 5:29:54 AM PDT by Ragtime Cowgirl
By Sarah Foster
© 2003 WorldNetDaily.com
At the invitation of a federal judge, Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist has intervened in a federal lawsuit filed last month by the parents of Terri Schindler-Schiavo, the 39-year-old brain-disabled woman whose husband and legal guardian Michael Schiavo is determined to end her life by court-ordered starvation.
Terri Schindler-Schiavo before her disability.
On Sept. 22, Robert and Mary Schindler of Gulf Port, Fla., sued their son-in-law in federal court to block the Oct. 15 removal of the feeding tube that is keeping their daughter alive.
The following day, U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara in a brief order set a date of Oct. 10 to hear arguments by the Schindlers and their attorney, Pat Anderson, regarding alleged violations of Terri's civil rights and invited Crist to represent the state's interests in the case.
''The constitutionality of a statute of the State of Florida affecting the public interest is drawn into question in this case,'' Lazzara wrote. Consequently, the attorney general would be permitted to intervene if he wanted to present evidence regarding the constitutionality of Chapter 765, the state's Health Care Advance Directives law, which establishes guidelines for discontinuing life-prolonging measures.
In a 19-page, friend-of-the-court brief filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Tampa, Crist defended the constitutionality of the state law and ''the right of severely incapacitated people to refuse artificial, life-prolonging measures'' an issue at the heart of the case.
Crist said the Schindlers had not made a ''persuasive case'' that the Florida statutes that provide ''a mechanism through which the profoundly incapacitated can exercise their constitutional right to refuse life-prolonging treatment'' are unconstitutional.
However, he declined to become further involved.
''The attorney general takes no position on the merits of the action or on what should be done in this tragic case, and appears for the limited purpose of defending the statute as constitutional,'' he said.
Crist's decision to intervene is the latest twist in the legal battle the Schindlers are fighting to protect their daughter's right to life against Schiavo's determination to end it. In their lawsuit, they're challenging the constitutionality of Florida statutes and charging that Terri's civil rights have been violated both in the courts and by the way she was cared for at the nursing homes and the hospice where she has been residing for three years.
They are further alleging a conspiracy between Schiavo and probate Judge George Greer, of the Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court, who has presided over the case almost from its beginning.
Probate Judge George Greer (Photo: Bay News 9)
As WorldNetDaily reported, Terri's parents have been fighting with their son-in-law for 10 years over the lack of care and therapy he has provided their daughter, who suffered massive brain damage when she collapsed at her home 13 years ago under still-unexplained circumstances at the age of 26.
The contentious family dispute escalated into a major euthanasia battle in 1998 when Schiavo sought court permission to remove her feeding tube, insisting she is in a ''persistent vegetative state'' and that in casual conversations years ago, she had told him she would not want to be kept alive ''artificially.'' Although she breathes on her own and maintains her own blood pressure, she requires a simple tube into her abdomen to her stomach for nourishment and hydration.
Schiavo claims he is only doing what Terri would want him to do. He says she wouldn't want to live in the condition she's in.
But Terri's parents and siblings have claimed for years that Terri recognizes them and tries to communicate, and over a dozen prominent doctors and therapists have sworn in testimony and affidavits that she could be rehabilitated if allowed to receive therapy, while a handful of doctors have testified she is ''vegetative'' or ''comatose'' and will never regain consciousness. Nonetheless, despite a scarcity of expert testimony and evidence for Schiavo's position, Judge Greer and Florida's appellate courts have consistently sided with him and his attorney, George Felos, the well-known ''right-to-die'' advocate.
In late August, in a unanimous ruling the seven-member Florida Supreme Court washed its hands of the matter by turning down an appeal by the Schindlers to review the case. The court's refusal to become involved cleared the way for Schiavo to starve his wife.
On Sept. 17, Judge Greer set the cut-off date for Oct. 15.
The question now is whether Judge Lazzara will agree the case belongs under federal jurisdiction and issue an injunction against removal of Terri's feeding tube.
Attorney Pat Anderson declined to comment.
Terri's supporters expressed mixed feelings towards Crist's intervention. They're glad he is limiting his involvement in the federal case to one of interpreting the constitutionality of the statutes. But they regret he has not done something to help Terri, especially in light of the outpouring of support for the vulnerable woman.
For over two months, people from across the country and around the world have been signing the Internet petition form posted on the family's website, urging Gov. Jeb Bush to stop the legal proceedings until a full investigation is made into the case, looking particularly at how a young wife suddenly became incapacitated in the wee hours of the morning back in 1990. This would necessarily involve the attorney general.
To date over 40,000 people have signed the petition.
''40,000 signatures that's a lotta meatballs,'' exclaimed Pamela Hennessey, the volunteer spokesperson for the family.
And according to Hennessey, that's only part of the total.
''40,000 petitions are what we know of,'' she explained. ''People are e-mailing, faxing and phoning the governor's office, the state attorney's office, as well as the attorney general of the state of Florida, asking them to intervene in this case and at the very least to investigate what the Schindler family believe are severe abuses against Terri and that includes sequestering her from her civil and human rights.
"As far as we know that hasn't happened yet and people are insistent that it happen," she said.
Hennessey said she finds it ironic and tragic that Florida officials were willing to act quickly to stop the on-stage suicide of a participant at a rock concert, yet have offered no help for a disabled woman.
''Within eight days time, the county commissioners, the city of St. Petersburg, everybody mobilized to make sure this [the suicide] wouldn't happen,'' she said. ''And it was this guy's choice. He intends to take his own life. He's making that choice on his own, and they mobilized in eight days to stop him. Eight days. They passed a law to try to prevent it, and in five years time they can't get their act together to look after Terri and it is not her choice to die it's her husband's choice.
''What does that tell you about priorities in Florida?'' she exclaimed.
Recently filed legal documents and information on Terri's fight for life are posted on the family's website.
Continuing prayers for Terri and the Schindler family.
God Bless This Man!
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It is in the breaking news sidebar!
Not just in Florida...
If there is any doubt as to whether Terri would want this (and there is EVERY doubt except for the word of a husband seeking to end her life, who already petitioned to have her body cremated immediately upon the end of her death by slow (and painful!) starvation), how can ANY human being claim that the Constitution was meant to permit this!
You know condemned mass-murderers and endangered species have more rights than this disabled, innocent woman who can not speak for herself.
This is not justice. This is pandering to the death-cult press who promoted Felos's right-to-kill agenda and changed the hearts of an unthinking Florida population.
Where's the justice for the innocent? Where's the compassion for a family who asks only to be able to care for the daughter and sister they love? They are being condemned by our press and those "leaders" annoyed with this case.
They know Terri. They want to save her life. How terrible!
Shame on AG Crist, Gov. Bush, Felos, Greer, Schiavo the St. Pete Times, the Suncoast Hospice and all involved in this sorry and inhumane scandal.
Here is my letter. Note that I added the info. about Pinellas Pasco Sheriff Rice being contacted by Patricia Anderson and that the assertion that the Pinellas Pasco Sheriff's Office had not been contacted as to abuse, etc. is a lie. I will fax or e-mail this ammended letter to Jeb's Office on Monday and contact Lauren O'Conner to let her know. If you have any other items for me to add I would beseech you to contact me ASAP:
From: Juan Schoch - juan.schoch@XXXXXXXXX.com
10/03/2003 03:48 PM
Subject: Complaint re: Sept. 30th Terri Schiavo Update coming from your office in your name
The following e-mail was received by me at a different e-mail address (I have the original e-mail) from your e-mail address with the message body indicating that it was coming from the Office of Citizens Services, one Lauren O'Connor. I spoke with Lauren and she indicates that although her name is in the e-mail message body as coming from her she (or your Office of Citizens Services) collaborates with your legal team. I am very concerned about the e-mail in that it was sent out on Sept. 30th and is false to facts and is in no way an "Update" on the Terri Schindler Schiavo case as the subject indicated -> Terri Schiavo Update. Where is the accountability? Whatever is coming out of your office should not be false to facts. Included here is the message body of the e-mail and I will comment as to what I take exception to and I would ask you to help me understand why this was sent out on Sept. 30th. If you are really concerned about the welfare of Terri Schiavo then please help me understand why this is coming out of your office at this time with false to facts statements not only being sent out to Florida residents but over State lines to other States in our United States of America (might I also add the world). Lauren indicated that I will not receive a form letter in response to this e-mail and that I can expect an e-mail back addressing the issues of which I take exception and any other concerns raised:
begin message body
Thank you for your e-mail expressing concern for the well being of Theresa Schiavo. The Governor also is concerned for her and for her family and is keeping them all in his prayers. The case represents a tragic situation of family disagreement under very trying circumstances.
This office has made several inquiries with agencies responsible for investigating abuse allegations. Neither the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office nor local law enforcement agencies have received or investigated any reports of abuse of Mrs. Schiavo. The office of the state attorney for the Sixth Judicial Circuit, Bernie McCabe, reviewed the matter and found no basis for any criminal investigation.
In keeping with Florida law, our court system oversees the well being of incapacitated adults, including the oversight of guardians and their activities. A Florida court appointed Mr. Michael Schiavo as his wife's guardian more than 12 years ago. In this role, he has been under the supervision of the probate division of the state court system. Critical decisions related to guardianship, including the decision to terminate life support, must be approved by the court. Mr. Schiavo obtained such a court order to remove his wife's feeding tube. Mrs. Schiavo's parents have appealed that order, and the court has postponed the removal of her feeding tube until the Florida Supreme Court reviews the case.
In Florida, these matters are entrusted to the system that our elected officials established to protect incapacitated adults. We must respect that system and trust the judge will listen to the views of all interested family members before reaching a decision in the best interest of Mrs. Schiavo.
It is never easy to make a life-and-death decision for a loved one. Under Florida law, residents can indicate in advance how they want to be cared for should they become unable to express their wishes. The Governor supports the use of advance directives or living wills. These tools ensure Floridians will be cared for in the manner of their own choosing and save their families the anguish of having to make these decisions for them.
For more information on advance directives, please visit these websites:
Aging With Dignity -- Five Wishes Advanced Directive <"agingwithdignity.org/>
American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging <"www.abanet.org/aging/toolkit/home.html>
Lauren O'Connor Office of Citizens' Services
end message body
What I take exception to is contained in the following as it is false to facts and is nothing more than misrepresentation. See my comments in between the brackets:
Neither the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office nor local law enforcement agencies have received or investigated any reports of abuse of Mrs. Schiavo.
[From Affidavit of Patricia Fields Anderson, Esq. dated September 8th, 2003.
17. On Sunday morning, August 31, 2003, still concerned about the ward's condition, I spoke with Everett Rice, Sheriff of Pinellas County, about the events described above and e-mailed him copies of the affidavits from the caregivers described in Paragraph 3 above. I asked him to take whatever action, as the county's chief law enforcement officer, he felt was appropriate under the circumstances.]
Critical decisions related to guardianship, including the decision to terminate life support, must be approved by the court. Mr. Schiavo obtained such a court order to remove his wife's feeding tube. Mrs. Schiavo's parents have appealed that order, and the court has postponed the removal of her feeding tube until the Florida Supreme Court reviews the case.
[Fact: On Sept. 30th the court had not postponed the removal of Terri's feeding tube and the Florida Supreme Court was not reviewing the case. On Sept. 11th (after the Florida Supreme Court shirked their responsibility to a conscious (read: not PVS) resident of Florida in which an attempt is being made on her life (by terminating her feeding and hydration) by a "husband" who has nothing more than criminal intentions and not Terri's best interests at heart. Witness affidavits which are now in Federal and State court records by a nurse/nurses assistants, or caregivers etc. who were themselves prompted to come forward after your fax letter sent to Judge Greer became known in the press. Pasco Pinellas County Judge George Greer on Sept. 11th deferred ruling on termination of feeding and hydration until the next week at which time he basically issued Terri's death warrant. It was obvious that Judge Greer postponed ruling in the case because of the showing that day of people who are concerned about Terri's well-being. I was one of those people. I drove all the way from Orlando to Clearwater to be a witness to so-called justice. He gave the appearance that justice would be served by deferring the ruling and acknowledging that Terri is a human being. The affidavits were entered into the record at that time by Attorney Patricia Anderson. Also in the court records is information which was entered into court records (before Sept. 11) asking Greer to step down because of impropriety in the case, basically showing that Greer was biased in the case and actually broke the law by talking about the case to other people (including the press in which he was talking about decisions he was going to be making in the case) without attorneys from both parties being present. He spoke to the Sheriff of Pinellas Pasco County Sheriff Rice at a baseball game indicating his displeasure (opposite from what he indicated to the press and also in which he illegally stated that he is not inclined to appoint a guardian ad litem) at receiving your communication that he should appoint a guardian ad litem in the case and err on the side of life. Also Sheriff Rice after talking to Greer (after his slip of passing this information to Anderson) was influenced by Greer or took it upon himself to call Patricia Anderson back and lie about the fact that Greer spoke to him and told him about his displeasure at a baseball game and that it was the other way around - that Sheriff Rice was the one who voiced his displeasure. This is a bald face lie and considering the facts of the matter he tried to cover up that Greer actually was breaking the law by speaking to others without both parties being present and that he had passed this information unthinkingly to Patricia Anderson who had contacted him in regards to the matter of that contained in the affidavits from the nurses, etc.. Even after this fact Greer refused to step down from the case and consequently proceeded to issue Terri's death warrant even in light of all the information anent the criminal actions, words, intentions of Michael Schiavo. How are you going to explain this away? Where is the accountability? You as a state actor were basically Terri's guardian and so was Judge Greer who allowed another guardian (who has criminal intents) to get the courts (through deceit) to issue Terri's termination of feeding and hydration order based solely on hearsay evidence and even after the fact of a malpractice lawsuit (Nov. 1992) in which Terri's rehabilitation was promised. After Michael received the money he issued a Do Not Resuscitate order in regards to Terri. Again I ask how are you going to explain this away? The issue is not going to go away and you shouldn't be sending out false information regarding this case under color of an "Terri Schiavo Update" on Sept. 30. Can you understand my outrage as a resident of Florida and a United States Citizen that this is happening on the various levels of our government and also what is coming out of your office? Where is the accountability and what are you doing about it? Terri deserves to live and she deserves the rehabilitation she was promised. Why was the information sent out on Sept. 30th not indicating that Judge George Greer issued his final order of Terri's termination of hydration and feeding to commence on Oct. 15th, etc. and that the matter is now at the Federal level under the jurisdiction of Judge Richard Lazzara of which a hearing is to occur on Oct. 10th? This is absolutely Terri's last chance to receive justice in this matter and if you are really concerned about justice and Terri's well-being then why is false information being sent out from your office? Terri did not have the opportunity of having a living will and was criminally denied her right to life via hearsay evidence by the State of Florida. She was promised rehabilitation and she deserves that rehabilitation. I am awaiting the promised personal response from you anent my concerns.
P.S. I would also like to know why the buck was being passed around when I tried to contact your office and was told that there was nothing that you could do about Terri's situation. I was then patched to the Attorney Generals Office upon request and was told that they could not do anything unless you ordered it and that it was a judicial matter, etc. This was a day before your fax letter to Judge Greer. Where is the break down? Also why cannot you convene a special session anent Terri's situation to change the law concerning 'exit protocols', etc. and people who have criminal intentions as guardians (who should not be guardians) esp. when those intentions come to light, etc.?]
XXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXX XXXXXXXX / XXXXXXXX XXXXXXXX
"NOTICE: The information contained in this electronic mail transmission is intended by XXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXX for the use of the named individual or entity to which it is directed and may contain information that is privileged or otherwise confidential. If you have received this electronic mail transmission in error, please delete it from your system without copying or forwarding it, and notify the sender of the error by reply email or by telephone (collect), so that the sender's address records can be corrected."
To his credit, Crist performed his official duty in a very limited fashion. A duty he could not avoid as Florida's Attorney General.
Bear in mind that his office could have prepared a Writ of Mandamus challenging those laws he felt were unenforceable in a state court upon his election in 2002. It seems the path of least resistance was his choice; leading him to a dead end ( no pun intended )declaration that the laws of Florida meet the prerequisites of the Constitution of the united States of America.
Bad choices will always lead to a bad conclusion. The politically expedient support of a morally corrupt system is akin to eating from a viral infested communal plate. The elect of Florida have allowed politics to supercede their spiritual and rational thought.
May His judgment of those who have harmed Terri be merciful and swift.
Furthur evidence that we are no longer a government of the people, by the people and for the people. The only recourse of the people is appeal to the highest court....and I'm not referring to SCOTUS.
And not just her, either.
It would have been a lot worse if he was going to argue the merits of the case.
I've emailed Sarah Foster before and I think she kinda sort of got it wrong this time.
I can see why Attorney Anderson had no comment. IMO, this was a small win for Terri, not a horrific development. Merits of the case is where all the evidence and facts come out that are far reaching. Florida Statutes are what they are but, the evidence and merits of Terri's case do rise to the level of a federal case.
Would you rather have Crist argue the merits in addition to his amicus filing? I don't think so.
If he argued the merits, then he can't come along later and jump the fence and prosecute EVERYONE because then there'd be a clear conflict of interest and Felos would cry foul.
I still believe that there's a chance for a special session but now right now. After the Federal Jury Trial and after all the evidence is on the table Jeb Bush could call one. Jeb is being NEUTRAL right now as is Crist. There may be a very good reason for it but I'm not in Tallahassee so I don't know. We should not turn on our leaders because they are NEUTRAL at this moment.
Charlie Crist cannot change the law as AG.
Your District can be found easily if you do a google search under Florida Election Precincts. PLEASE CALL YOUR LOCAL FLA LEGISLATOR!!!!
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