Florida Agency Appeals Terri Schiavo Abuse Investigation Decision

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 15, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Florida Agency Appeals Terri Schiavo Abuse Investigation Decision

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
March 15, 2005

Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — A Florida agency seeking to stop the starvation of Terri Schiavo so it can investigate charges of abuse and neglect against her filed an appeal with a Florida appeals court. The agency hopes to prevent Terri’s starvation for 60 days while it looks into the allegations.

On Monday, Florida’s Department of Children and Families filed an appeal of Circuit Court Judge George Greer’s decision preventing the delay. Papers were filed with the 2nd District Court of Appeals in Lakeland, Florida.

Adult Protective Services investigator Michael Will points to a 1972 decision by the 2nd DCA which held that a trial judge was in error when he prevented the agency from investigating another case. Will hopes that precedent will prompt the appeals court to grant the agency’s delay request.

In his ruling, Greer claimed the request from DCF "appears to be brought for the purpose of circumventing the court’s final judgment … in violation of the separation of powers doctrine."

After hearing testimony about the charges of abuse yesterday, Greer told DCF officials, "All of the things (the witness) ticked off … were all issues that have been in open court in front of the media and in the court files which the media has access to."

Department of Children and Families supervisor Susan McPhee told Judge Greer that Michael has denied her medical treatment and isolated her in her hospice room with the blinds closed and prevented her from going outdoors.

Those are just some of the "30 detailed allegations of abuse, neglect or exploitation" the agency received in a 34-page document in February.

Other DCF concerns include Michael’s failure to follow state law and provide an annual guardianship and medical care plan for Terri, failure to provide Terri with medical care and rehabilitative therapy as he told a court he would do, and lack of moving Terri from her bed which has caused her "severe contractures."

"The allegations … go to the heart of whether abuse, neglect and/or exploitation has been perpetrated by the guardian such that any relief afforded by this court to this guardian prior to the conclusion of such investigation would be tragically misplaced," the petition said.

The Florida appeals court is also considering motions by Terri’s parents this week as they, too, appeal Judge Greer’s decisions on various matters.

The court has promised an expedited ruling by 5 PM on Thursday, in time for the decisions to make an impact on Friday, when Michael is scheduled to begin the starvation process.