Terri Schiavo’s Case – Justice With Eyes Wide Shut

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 10, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Terri Schiavo’s Case – Justice With Eyes Wide Shut

by Pamela Hennessy
June 10, 2004

LifeNews.com Note: Pamela Hennessy is a media representative of the Terri Schiavo’s family and the Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation.

The idiom "Blind Justice" has found new meaning in Pinellas County, Florida.

Within the hallowed confines of Florida’s Sixth Judicial Circuit rages a battle so bizarre and contrary to law, it is truly stranger than fiction and something that must be seen to be believed.

In the case of Terri Schindler-Schiavo, a brain damaged Pinellas County woman, an estranged husband wants to end her life and possibly reap financial benefits from her death while her parents and siblings fight to keep that from happening.

Terri receives food and fluids through a simple gastric tube and her husband, Michael Schiavo, has successfully petitioned the courts for the right to remove it – causing a slow death by dehydration and starvation. Only the intervention of Florida’s lawmakers have spared her from this barbaric execution.

The main peculiarity circles around a bewildering and semi-permanent fixture in the Terri Schiavo case – Judge George W. Greer of Pinellas-Pasco County Circuit Court.

Though Terri Schiavo had never committed to any written advanced directives, Judge Greer is determined that she wants to die.

Hearsay from three Schiavos was what Greer found to be "clear and convincing" evidence of this alleged death wish. But Greer remained oblivious to other evidence in the form of sworn
statements and testimony from family and friends of Ms. Schiavo that her attitudes about such things were dramatically different from the statements of her estranged husband and his immediate family members.

When a bone scan, conducted on Ms. Schiavo in 1991, was produced in court and revealed that the then 26 year-old woman suffered a multitude of fractures and trauma, Greer stated that he found it "interesting," but "not relevant" to the current situation of Ms. Schiavo’s disability or right to live.

Unbelievably, Greer has ignored the requirements of the State of Florida that guardians (including Michael Schiavo) must furnish annual reports and plans of care. Since Schiavo has neglected to do so in a number of years, he should stand to be disqualified as his wife’s guardian, but Greer doesn’t see it that way.

Nor does he pay much attention to the Florida Statutes that govern the care and retained rights of incapacitated persons. Such statutes (under the 744 chapters) require that a guardian restore an incapacitated ward to capacity. As Terri has not received rehabilitation or therapy on the orders of her husband/guardian, Greer has an obligation to her to remove that
guardian. Still, he hasn’t seen fit to do so.

As if these things were not troubling enough, Judge Greer approved that Terri be confined to a Hospice facility after the fact. Though such moves require prior court approval and Terri
does not meet the requirements for Hospice admission, Greer rendered his approval days later. Alarmingly, Michael Schiavo’s attorney, George Felos, was then serving as Chairman of the Board of that same Hospice.

In a May 26, 2004 hearing to restore visitation rights to Terri’s parents, Greer was unwilling to see that an exhaustive police investigation turned up no evidence of any wrong-doing on the
part of Terri’s parents, nor any reason for them to be denied visitation with their daughter. This came after wild accusations by Schiavo’s attorney, George Felos, that the parents had caused puncture marks on the disabled woman’s arms and caused her feeding tube to be wrapped around her back.

What Greer chose to see was not the fact that the testimony of three Hospice nurses conflicted with their own reports to police and that an interruption of a "PEG" tube initiates an accountable alarm. Instead, he chose to turn a blind eye to all inconsistencies and allowed the hearing to pursue the tone of indictment against the very people trying to save their daughter’s life.

In the end and days later, Greer "allowed" Terri Schiavo to receive visitors again, not the least bit mindful that no guardian has the authority to withdraw such a right without a prior court approval.

Does this judge Greer not see the his own September 2003 order that mandated Michael Schiavo to release a Morton Plant Hospital release summary to Terri’s parents? Terri had been hospitalized under mysterious circumstances weeks prior and her parents were denied information about her condition or what treatment she was receiving – if any. As of this writing, they still have not received this document and it seems as if Greer is, again,
looking the other way.

One has to wonder what it is Judge Greer actually does see from his safe perch at the front of the courtroom. He certainly doesn’t see Michael Schiavo, who has long claimed to be a loving spouse and only respecting his wife’s wishes, sitting in that very courtroom. Mr. Schiavo is rarely, if ever present. Since Judge Greer fails or simply refuses to see the irregularities going on in his own court, should the average citizen assume he has any prowess as a finder of fact? Or should one deduce that his ability to see clearly is as flawed as his own rulings?

What he should be made to look at is a pair of lively brown eyes belonging to the woman he has sentenced to die. He should look unflinchingly at a family that has been systematically destroyed and rendered helpless to protect their eldest child. He may even want to take at least a cursory glance at the laws of Florida that forbid such brutal treatment of its disabled and incapacitated citizens.

A recent reelection bid of Greer’s bears the slogan "Reelect Judge Greer – He Listens." Perhaps he feels as if the citizens of Pinellas County should take comfort in the notion that he maintains one of his senses.