Judge Approves Guardian for Terri Who Criticized "Terri’s Law"

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 31, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Judge Approves Guardian for Terri Who Criticized "Terri’s Law"

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
October 31, 2003

Pinellas Park, FL (LifeNews.com) — A local judge on Friday approved a guardian for Terri Schiavo who criticized a law passed by the state legislature that allowed Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) to ask doctors to reinsert the feeding tube that is allowing Terri to live.

Pamela Hennessy, a representative of Terri’s family, told LifeNews.com, that Chief Pinellas-Pasco Chief Judge David Demers appointed Dr. Jay Wolfson as guardian ad litem to Terri, despite the suggestion of bias from Terri’s family.

"With all the highly qualified and reputable professional guardians in Pinellas County, Florida, the appointment of a potentially biased guardian has caused a tremendous amount of concern," Hennessy told LifeNews.com.

Wolfson is a professor of health and law at Florida-based Stetson University.

Demers said Wolfson could be "fair and partial" and has not expressed a public opinion about Terri’s situation.

Bob and Mary Schindler, Terri’s parents, disagree and previously told Demers they opposed Wolfson’s appointment because they say he opposed Terri’s Law in an interview on WFTS-TV in Tampa, Florida.

"If this law stands the constitutional test of the courts, then it certainly implies the executive of our state has the prerogative of injecting the state into your life, or your family member’s life," Wolfson said in the interview following passage of the law.

Demers said he reviewed the interview and believes Wolfson made no expressed opposition to Terri’s Law in it. Even if he had, Demers wrote in his opinion, Wolfson could still carry out the duties of guardian.

Michael Schiavo did not contest Wolfson’s appointment as guardian, though he wanted Demers to delay the decision.

On Wednesday, Deborah Bushnell, an attorney for Michael, asked Demers to delay the appointment of a guardian until after the Terri’s Law suit has been completed.

When the Florida legislature passed "Terri’s Law" allowing Bush to ask doctors to reinsert the feeding tube, part of it allowed the appointment of an independent guardian for Terri. However, the Schindlers and Michael were unable to agree on one and Demers said he would appoint one if both sides couldn’t reach an agreement within five days.

Wolfson would become Terri’s advocate in legal proceedings, but it is still unclear what the scope of his powers would be regarding Terri’s care. Demers opinion says Wolfson would be required to "make recommendations to the Governor and the court."

Michael’s attorneys made their challenge to the law official this week and Governor Bush’s attorneys will file a response by next Wednesday.

Demers order has no bearing on the lawsuit against Terri’s Law.

Related web sites:
Demers’ order – https://terrisfight.org/downloads/appointment%20wolfson%20103103.pdf
Bob and Mary Schindler’s opposition to Wolfson – https://terrisfight.org/downloads/Suggestion%20of%20Bias%20102403.pdf