- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 24, 2005

CLEARWATER, Fla. — A state judge and the U.S. Supreme Court refused today to intervene in the case of Terri Schiavo, leaving the brain-damaged woman’s parents with only the slimmest hopes in their fight to keep her alive.

Meanwhile, a hearing was set in Tampa on Thursday evening on yet another legal move.

Gov. Jeb Bush’s request seeking custody cited new allegations of neglect and challenges the diagnoses that Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state, but Pinellas Circuit Judge George Greer wasn’t convinced and declined to hear Bush’s arguments.

“The requested intervention … appears to be brought for the purpose of circumventing the courts’ final judgment and order setting the removal date in violation of the separate of powers doctorate,” Greer ruled Thursday.

Greer’s decision Thursday afternoon came hours after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to order her feeding tube reinserted. The decisions reduce chances for quick intervention to reconnect the tube, which was pulled last Friday. Doctors have said Schiavo, 41, likely would die in a week or two without nourishment.

Bush said he was expecting Greer to rule against the state and he planned to appeal. He added that he won’t violate Greer’s order by sending state officers to take custody of Schiavo under a law that allows the Department of Children & Families to act in emergency situations of adult abuse.

Bush’s legal team is still frantically poring over state laws to see if there’s another way to intervene while appealing Greer’s decision.

Attorneys for the parents declined to comment on Greer’s latest ruling. Lawyers for the husband didn’t return a phone message for comment.

In his ruling, Greer said an affidavit from neurologist William Cheshire, who believes that Schiavo is “minimally conscious,” was not enough to set aside the judgment in the long-running legal case that established Terri Schiavo’s right to have the feeding tube removed.

“Theresa Marie Schiavo cannot live without a nutrition and hydration tube and Dr. Cheshire does not suggest otherwise. By clear and convincing evidence, it was determined she did not want to live under such burdensome conditions and that she would refuse such medical treatment/assistance,” Greer wrote.

The appeal by her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, was part of a rush of legal activity in the unprecedented right-to-die struggle. They have frantically tried to reconnect the tube because they deny Michael Schiavo’s arguments that she has no hope for recovery.

Schiavo’s husband, Michael, had urged the high court not to intervene, saying her case has been endlessly litigated and state courts have agreed with him that she would not want to live in her current condition.

The Supreme Court justices didn’t explain their decision, which was received by somber supporters outside the woman’s hospice in Pinellas Pines. It was at least the fifth time the nation’s high court declined to get involved in the Schiavo case.

Greer had issued an emergency order Wednesday to keep the state Department of Children & Families from reconnecting the tube. On Thursday, even before ruling on the custody question, Greer reinforced that order.

Outside the Pinellas County courthouse, about 30 protesters knelt in prayer.

Also Thursday, David Gibbs III, the attorney for the Schindlers, filed an amended version of his still-pending civil rights lawsuit against Michael Schiavo and others in federal court in Tampa. He also asked for a temporary injunction, and a hearing was set for Thursday evening.

“The new claims raised are even more insubstantial than the old claims,” said George Felos, Michael Schiavo’s attorney. He said he is hopeful the case will soon be peacefully settled and criticized state officials.

“It saddens me greatly that we have to run to court to get court orders to protect Terri Schiavo from the abuse of the state of Florida,” Felos said.

But Gibbs said he wished the high court “waded in,” adding that the justices “could have provided great guidance in this confusing issue.”

The Schindlers filed their request with the high court late Wednesday, only hours after a federal appeals court refused to order the tube reinserted and the Florida Legislature decided not to intervene.

Lawyers for Michael Schiavo said in their Supreme Court filing that Congress violated the Constitution when it passed a bill allowing federal court review of her case, because that tried to overturn state court rulings.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee and Republican Sens. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Mel Martinez of Florida filed a friend-of-the-court brief late Wednesday siding with Schiavo’s parents.

“This is not about Terri anymore. This is all a political view,” Scott Schiavo, Michael Schiavo’s brother, told CNN on Thursday. “They’re being bullied, actually, by these right-for-life people, basically telling them, `If you don’t go our way, you won’t get our votes.’”

Terri Schiavo suffered brain damage in 1990 when her heart stopped briefly from a chemical imbalance believed to have been brought on by an eating disorder. Court-appointed doctors say she is in a persistent vegetative state with no hope of recovery.

Her parents and their doctors argue that she could get better and that she would never have wanted to be cut off from food and water. But Ronald Cranford of the University of Minnesota, a neurologist who was among those who made a previous diagnosis of Schiavo, said “there isn’t a reputable, credible neurologist in the world who won’t find her in a vegetative state.”

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide