Bush Attorneys Ask Appeals Court to Remove Judge in Terri’s Law Case

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 21, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Bush Attorneys Ask Appeals Court to Remove Judge in Terri’s Law Case

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
November 21, 2003

Pinellas Park, FL (LifeNews.com) — Attorneys for Florida Governor Jeb Bush have asked an appeals court to remove a judge who is at the center of the lawsuit against Terri’s Law who says he will not step down from the case.

Attorneys for Bush asked Circuit Court Judge Douglas Baird to step down because they say he will be biased against their response to the lawsuit. Baird previously indicated he thought the Terri’s Law violated Terri’s privacy rights and was "presumptively unconstitutional."

By making that claim, Baird has essentially decided the case without giving Bush an opportunity to present his side. That ought to compel Baird to step down, Bush’s attorneys say.

Baird, in a strongly-worded response, said he didn’t dispute the facts in Bush’s motion to disqualify him, but that they weren’t sufficient to require him to recuse himself.

Pat Anderson, the attorney who represents Terri’s family, said Bush’s attorneys are right to be concerned about Baird’s impartiality.

"We are hopeful that Judge Baird has not prejudged the issues, even though his written order from two weeks ago seems to say otherwise," Anderson said.

Ken Conner, the pro-life attorney who is leading Bush’s legal team, filed the motion to ask Baird to step down and it compares Baird to the Queen of Hearts in a scene from the novel Alice in Wonderland.

In the scene, the Knave stands accused of stealing tarts and the Queen says "Sentence first, verdict afterwards."

"In the Governor’s view, the findings as to the merits already made by Judge Baird … seem strangely reminiscent of the trial recounted in the Lewis Carroll fairy tale,” the motion states.

Conner defended the description of the legal situation saying, "Where literary references are apropos and have the ability to sum up a situation, sure those are used. The governor’s view was reflected in that motion by that description.”

Terri’s family has praised Bush’s legal team for strongly defending the law.

"We are extremely pleased at the breadth of the Governor’s legal arguments and that he is not going to let this challenge go without a fight," said Pat Anderson, attorney for the Schindler family. "Because Terri’s life hangs in the balance, we hope the case will receive a full and impartial hearing."

George Felos, the assisted suicide advocate who is representing Michael, said he planned to file a motion arguing that Baird should not recuse himself. That is now unnecessary.

Baird has accepted arguments made by Felos, who is getting help from the ACLU, that Terri would not want to be kept alive.

Michael claims Terri made an offhanded comment saying she preferred not to be kept alive artificially. However, Michael didn’t recall the supposed statement until years after Terri’s collapse.

However, Terri’s best friend Diane Meyer recalls one of the few times Terri got mad at her was when they had just seen a television movie about Karen Ann Quinlan. Quinlan had been in a coma since collapsing six years earlier and was the subject of a bitter court battle over her parents’ decision to take her off a respirator.

Meyer told a cruel joke about Quinlan, and it upset Terri. "She went down my throat about this joke, that it was inappropriate," Meyer said previously.

She remembers Terri wondering how the doctors and lawyers could possibly know what Quinlan was really feeling or what she would want.

"Where there’s life," Meyer recalls her saying, "there’s hope."

Related web sites:
Terri’s Family – https://www.terrisfight.org