Judge Delays Hearing on Terri’s Law Suit Until Tuesday

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 18, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Judge Delays Hearing on Terri’s Law Suit Until Tuesday

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
December 18, 2003

Pinellas Park, FL (LifeNews.com) — Circuit Court Judge Douglas Baird has moved back a scheduled hearing date in the lawsuit filed by Terri Schiavo’s estranged husband Michael against Terri’s Law, the pro-life law that allowed Florida Governor Jeb Bush to save Terri’s life.

Ken Conner, the pro-life attorney who is Bush’s lead counsel, is in Mississippi handling another case and would be unavailable to appear in court on Friday, the original date of the hearing.

Conner had also asked Baird to delay the initial hearing on the case because he wanted more time for discovery. He would like to present facts showing that Terri never would have wanted her life to be ended prematurely.

However, Baird denied the motion to delay any further.

The hearing will cover the request filed by Michael’s lawyer George Felos, an assisted suicide advocate, for Baird to issue a summary judgment decision on the lawsuit.

Baird agreed with Felos that the facts of the case had already been presented. That, combined with comments he has made saying the law is unconstitutional lead some to believe he will rule for Michael next week and overturn the law.

However, both Bush and Bob and Mary Schindler, Terri’s parents, want a full trial on the law to determine whether Terri would have wanted lifesaving medical treatment.

Terri left no advanced directive indicating her preference for medical treatment. Michael claimed years after Terri’s collapse that he vaguely remembered Terri saying she didn’t want to be kept alive artificially.

However, a longtime friend of Terri vividly remembers a conversation they had concerning a woman who had been in a coma for six years. Terri’s friend told a crude joke. It upset Terri and she responded by asking whether the doctors and lawyers could possible know what the woman wanted and said, "Where there’s life, there’s hope."

"Because Terri’s life hangs in the balance, we hope the case will receive a full and impartial hearing," Pat Anderson, attorney for Terri’s parents, added.

Since the lawsuit against Terri’s Law was filed, George Felos, the assisted suicide advocate who is Michael’s attorney, has said he thought Bush was dragging his feet and purposefully delaying the lawsuit from moving forward. Felos is receiving legal help from the ACLU.

Last week, a Florida state appeals court declined to remove Baird from overseeing the lawsuit, though Conner said Baird would likely be biased against the law.

Conner, the former president of both the Family Research Council and Florida Right to Life, said Baird had already made up his mind about it without a hearing or trial and before Bush could present his side of the case.

Baird had previously said Terri’s Law was "presumptively unconstitutional" and that it denied Terri’s "constitutional right to privacy."

That’s the argument Felos is making on Michael’s behalf. Michael wants Terri’s Law overturned and for Terri’s feeding tube to be removed a third time.

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