March 2, 2005

Can Terri Schindler-Schiavo Be Murdered By Judicial Fiat...In America?

This posting builds on two previous postings here and here.

On February 25, Judge Greer issued what can only be described as an order of execution:

Ordered and Adjudged that absent a stay from the appellate courts, the guardian, Michael Schiavo, shall cause the removal of nutrition and hydration from the ward, Theresa Schiavo, at 1:00 p.m. on March 18, 2005.

Is this America, the land of the free, if judges can order the murder of citizens by fiat?

Others are asking the same question:

"This is not simply a court order removing a judicial stay and allowing the guardian to proceed as he sees fit," said Diane Coleman, President of Not Dead Yet, which was joined by sixteen other national disability rights groups in three amicus briefs filed in support of Terri Schiavo's right to food and water.

Unfortunately, the judge’s action is only the latest in a series of ethically challenged actions, the litany of which are outlined here in an impeachment initiative. Consider these examples:

1. Judge Greer has allowed Michael Schiavo to remain as Terri’s guardian even though he should be removed as Terri’s guardian pursuant to Florida Statute 744.474(2) for failure to discharge his duties as guardian. The statute requires that the guardian protect the rights of the ward, provide for her health and safety, properly manage her financial resources and help her regain her abilities to the maximum extent possible.

2. Judge Greer has allowed Michael Schiavo to remain as Terri’s guardian even though he should be removed as Terri’s guardian pursuant to Florida Statute 744.474(3) for abuse of his powers as evidenced by his denying her any significant sensory stimulation and his efforts to have her life ended…

5. Judge Greer has allowed Michael Schiavo to remain as Terri’s guardian even though he should be removed as Terri’s guardian pursuant to Florida Statute 744.474(13) for failure to comply with the guardianship report…

7. Judge Greer has allowed Michael Schiavo to remain as Terri’s guardian even though he should be removed as Terri’s guardian pursuant to Florida Statute 744.474(16) for improperly managing the ward’s assets by using Terri’s money which was awarded by a court to be used for her rehabilitation but at the authorization of Judge Greer is being used to pay legal fees in an effort to end Terri’s life…

9. Judge Greer has allowed Michael Schiavo to remain as Terri’s guardian even though he should be removed as Terri’s guardian pursuant to Florida Statute 744.474(18) because Michael’s adulterous relationship (which is a misdemeanor under Florida law) with another woman ought to disqualify Michael as a suitable guardian for Terri as the interest which Michael said (in malpractice trial court proceedings) he had toward Terri is directed to another woman who is not his wife and has two children by said other woman of whom he is the father…

12. Judge Greer has deprived Terri of her constitutional religious rights by allowing Michael Schiavo to prevent Monsignor Malonowski from visiting Terri, by allowing Michael to prevent Monsignor Malinowski from administering last rites when her feeding tube was removed in October 2003, and by allowing Michael to prevent Terri’s blood relatives from placing pictures of religious figures in her room…

17. Judge Greer has denied Terri the right under 744.3215(d) (d) to be treated humanely, with dignity and respect, and to be protected against abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

18. Judge Greer has denied Terri the right under 744.3215(e) to have a qualified guardian.

19. Judge Greer has denied Terri the right under 744.3215(f) to remain as independent as possible, including having her preference as to place and standard of living honored, either as she expressed or demonstrated her preference prior to the determination of his or her incapacity or as she currently expresses her preference, insofar as such request is reasonable.

20. Judge Greer has denied Terri the right under 744.3215 (g) to be properly educated. She is not receiving any rehabilitative therapy…

23. Judge Greer has denied Terri the right under 744.3215 (k) to have access to the courts. Judge Greer has relied upon the testimony of others related to Michael Schiavo as to Terri’s condition yet ignored the testimony of her blood relatives which was contradictory to information provided by Michael and his family.

24. Judge Greer has denied Terri the right under 744.3215(l) to counsel.

25. Judge Greer has denied Terri the right under 744.3215(m) to receive visitors and communicate with others.

26. Judge Greer has allowed violation of 744.3215(a) by allowing Terri to be moved to different facilities without prior approval of the court.

27. Judge Greer has allowed violation of 744.3215(b) not requiring Michael to have follow up examinations of electrodes, which were implanted in Terri’s brain. These implants should have been removed years ago, as they are a source for both infection and hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus may cause pressure that could suppress cognitive function and be responsible for much of Terri’s condition. If so, there could be a vast improvement in her condition if a shunt were placed. Hydrocephalus could also cause pressure that would flatten the brain and show fluid filled areas on a brain scan.

28. Judge Greer has allowed Michael to violate a court order stating that he is to keep Terri’s family advised of her medical condition.

29. Judge Greer has ignored Terri’s right under 765.102(5)(a) to palliative care which addresses physical, psychological, social, spiritual, and existential needs of patients.

30. Judge Greer has not required Michael Schiavo to implement a plan which would provide for Terri’s needs under 765.102(5)(a)…

32. Judge Greer relied on Dr. Ronald Cranford’s definition of PVS (Persistent Vegetative State) instead of the legal definition contained in the Florida Statutes. There were several doctors who gave reports that Terri is not PVS but Greer decided not to use the Florida Statute’s definition.

33. Judge Greer has failed to be impartial and has ignored testimony and evidence presented by Counsel for Terri’s natural family and has consistently ruled in agreement with Counsel for Michael Schiavo.

34. Judge Greer has allowed Michael to continue denying visitation to Terri’s family…

35. Judge Greer authorized the euthanization of Terri Schiavo by authorizing the removal of her feeding tube when she does not fit the definition of PVS under Florida statutes. Euthanasia is illegal in Florida.

36. Judge Greer has violated the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. Sections 12101 provides that necessary and appropriate rehabilitation services and physical/motor skill therapy may not be denied a substantially disabled patient in the United States of America.

37. Judge Greer has violated the ADA Cf 28 CFR, Ch 1, Subpart B, Sect 35.130 States "Nothing in the Act or this part authorizes the representative or guardian of an individual with a disability to decline food, water, medical treatment, or medical services for that individual."

38. Judge Greer has violated FS 38.10 four times by not disqualifying himself from the case when it was requested. The statute states whenever a party to any action or proceeding makes and files an affidavit stating fear that he or she will not receive a fair trial in the court where the suit is pending on account of the prejudice of the judge of that court against the applicant or in favor of the adverse party, the judge shall proceed no further, but another judge shall be designated…

The same article continues:

Judge Greer serves on the Committee for Guardianship Monitoring but is, in fact, violating the intentions and guidelines established by the Committee:

1. Judge Greer has neglected the mission of guardianship monitoring in Terri’s case. The mission of guardianship monitoring is to collect, provide, and evaluate information about the well-being and property of all persons adjudicated of having a legal incapacity so that the court can fulfill its legal obligation to protect and preserve the interests of the ward, and thereby promote confidence in the judicial process.

2. Page 5 of the document contains "Thus, the court must be proactive to discover and respond to disputes and issues." Judge Greer has intentionally ignored disputed issues in Terri’s case and not made any ruling to correct them.

3. On page 6 of the document is this statement "An ideal guardianship monitoring program encompasses four major service areas: (1) initial and on-going screening and reviewing of guardians; (2) reporting on the well-being of the ward; (3) reporting on the protection of the ward’s assets; and (4) case administration." Judge Greer’s flagrant oversight of Michael Schiavo’s violations of the statutes pertaining to guardians is certainly no example for any monitoring program.

4. It is unclear whether Judge Greer has required Michael Schiavo to meet all the requirements of a guardian (listed on page 6 of the document). "A family member guardian is required to hire an attorney, provide detailed personal information, undergo a credit check, post a fiduciary’s bond, attend an 8-hour training course, and file detailed initial and annual personal and financial reports."

5. Pinellas County employees a full time monitoring staff, which reviews cases to make sure guardianship plans are being filed and followed. It would not have been possible for them to give approval of the plan for Terri since the guardianship plans have not been an important issue with Judge Greer evidenced by his granting Michael extensions to file the plan. Judge Greer is deliberately undermining the guardianship monitoring program which was established to make sure that all wards receive the protection they are entitled to by the law.

6. Judge Greer did not adhere to the monitoring guidelines which state that “in cases where it appears there is substantial likelihood for serious irreparable harm (similar to the injunctive relief standard), immediate action steps by the court should include but not be limited to: Filing an abuse, neglect, or exploitation complaint with the Department of Children and Families, as required by statute, referral to local law enforcement agencies or the state attorney and, conducting immediate hearings among several other possible actions. Terri is at risk of irreparable harm as long as Michael is her guardian. He didn’t want to treat her for an infection, has not had preventive health care examinations for her and stated on national television that he would do whatever it takes to have her feeding tube removed. Michael also stated during the same interview that Terri's teeth were fine but recently she is missing several teeth.

I have intentionally listed many of the claims against Judge Greer to convey the magnitude and gravity of his ethically challenged behavior. When his behavior is combined with Michael Schiavo's behavior highlighted here, can any reasonable person believe Terri - as a disabled woman - had even the slightest chance of being treated justly?

Is this the America we love when a beast of a husband and an unprincipled judge can gang up to kill a defenseless disabled woman?

Alas, suggested misdeeds and ethical conflicts are not limited only to Judge Greer's courtroom behavior. This article highlights some questionnable behaviors of his related to local Florida politics.

With 16 days left before the killing begins, what is next? Many of the motions filed by the Schindler family were denied outright on February 28 without any hearing by Judge Greer's court:

Judge George Greer...has denied, without access to hearing, motions filed by Terri Schiavo's immediate family for:

* Updated neurological evaluations based on new MRI testing protocols;

* A motion to compel the deposition of Michael Schiavo;

* A petition for extraordinary authority to provide Terri Schiavo with updated rehabilitative protocols;

* A petition for divorce, citing open adultery on the part of Terri Schiavo's husband and guardian;

* An objection to the guardian's annual guardianship plan;

* A motion to remove Michael Schiavo as guardian, citing his failure to comply with Florida Law mandated guardianship requirements. This motion dates back to November of 2002, but the court has never ruled on it.

[PDF versions of the denied motions can be found in the just-highlighted article.]

Judge Greer has stated that he will only consider motions from Terri's family as they relate to the death process, which include but are not limited to a motion to allow Terri Schiavo to die at home instead of a Hospice facility, a motion for a Florida burial, and a motion allowing her immediate family uninterrupted access to her throughout the death process.

Pamela Hennessey, spokesperson for the Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation says the foundation finds the actions of Judge Greer reprehensible and a clear denial of the due process rights afforded to Terri Schiavo under Federal and Florida law.

The hearing for the remaining motions has been set for March 4.

There are several important actions we can all take immediately:

Contact Florida’s Governor, Jeb Bush at, and demand that he invoke Florida Statute 415.1051 to provide protective custody until investigations into abuse and neglect can be carried out.

Contact Florida's Senate and ask them to institute an immediate moratorium on withholding assisted nutrition and hydration until Florida can adopt a new standard of testing protocols for brain-injured patients.

Contact Florida’s House of Representatives and ask them to pass legislation that would forbid the removal of food and water without the informed consent of the patient.

Visit the Schindler family's website and see for yourself the woman who has been called a house plant by her husband’s attorney and why.

Get a Protective Medical Decisions Directive from the International Anti-Euthanasia task force and make your medical treatment desires known to your family and friends. You don’t have to be starved or dehydrated to death simply because your life is effected by disability.

The Founding Principles of America as articulated in the Declaration of Independence were deeply profound and set a new example for the world. At this time of peril, we have a great need to rediscover those principles and let them guide our actions.

If we ignore those principles, then this T. S. Eliot quote (offered by Bruce Frohnen) will likely become our future:

As political philosophy derives its sanctions from ethics, and ethics from the truth of religion, it is only by returning to the eternal source of truth that we can hope for any social organization which will not, to its ultimate destruction, ignore some essential aspect of reality. The term "democracy," as I have said again and again, does not contain enough positive content to stand alone against the forces that you dislike - it can easily be transformed by them. If you will not have God, you will pay your respects to Hitler and Stalin.

As citizens of this great land, the unethical actions of Judge Greer and Michael Schiavo now force each of us to make fundamental choices which we can no longer brush off: Will our culture defend the helpless? Will we allow Terri Schindler-Schiavo to live?

In other words, will we stay true to the Founding Principles of America and the values which informed that Founding? Each of us must take a stand. What is your personal answer?

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

This is an exceptional post on the Terri Schindler-Schiavo life-and-death legal tangle, among the very best I've read. Your site is performing a terrific service. Well done!

Posted by: B.A. Higgins at March 2, 2005 11:25 AM

Is this the America we love when a beast of a husband and an unprincipled judge....

You're stepping over the line. Have you looked at those statutes? They're very broadly worded. The statute may say that a guardian has to protect the ward's assets, but without case law interpreting what that means, it doesn't tell us anything.

Frankly, your willingness to berate a judge without any basis in case law says a lot more about your ethics than Greer's.

Posted by: jpe at March 2, 2005 11:26 AM

I agree with jpe's statement. Here's a paragraph that I posted here at an earlier article on the Schiavo mess:

What really bothers me in this case is the need to vilify people that don’t agree. Here, and much more so on other websites Michael Schiavo is accused of all sorts of nasty stuff, including possible murder. Isn’t it just possible that he’s a young man that was dealt a pretty bad hand by life and he’s trying as best as he can to fulfill his wife’s last wishes? And Judge Greer and other judges involved are just trying to navigate a horrible situation as best as they can.

I hope you don't take too much offense at this, but this is an area where responsible people can differ. What were Terri's wishes? Hell if I know, but demonizing the husband and the judge among others just doesn't help the intellectual part of the case.

Judge Greer has made a large number of rulings in this case since 2000. Only a single, insubstantial one has been overruled by the appeals court. The FL Supreme court has been involved once, and it also backed him. The US Supreme Court had a chance to get involved, but it passed.

There are 2 possibilities -- Greer and a good chunk of the FL judiciary are out to kill a single helpless woman or they're just trying to navigate a horrible situation. My money's on the latter. There's a reason that the police are loathe to get involved in domestic situations -- feelings run way too high.

The may be an issue that can't be discussed calmly, without vilification of those involved. I guess that's what the courts are in place for. Unfortunately they're not immune from the vilification.

Posted by: Buckland at March 2, 2005 1:31 PM

This is a discussion that only the timid would shrink from undertaking. To be sure, it invites highly colored expressions, expressions tailored, I might add, to the degree of injustice that one suspects. It may be true that the sources and agents of injustice may act in ignorance of the role(s) they play. But when ever has that been excuse for deferring to their authority?

When I look back over the long history of litigation in the area of civil rights, I am keenly aware of just how long the well-intentioned systematically perpetuated injustice before conscience enough was awakened to put an end to it. And how did those who protested injustice act? When they saw lynchings they called them lynchings, no matter how much the civil infrastructure that protected lynchers was "just following the law to the best of their ability." Now, it is not my intention to ratchet up the discourse by equating Terri's ex-husband and Judge Greer to red necks or worse. My point is to illustrate that the conversation only advances, in the worst cases, when folk are prepared to describe reality truthfully.

The truth of this case is that a confluence of events and forces have conspired to render a perfectly innocent individual prey to others whose manifest conduct, and therefore character, belie any putative claims of their good intentions. The preponderance of the evidence is that Terri's best interest has at no point been the center of focus in this case.

When strangers interfere to defend innocent life they are carrying out the highest moral duty. It is true that their judgment becomes crucial in that case. For if they are mistaken in their judgment, their action on behalf of justice can occasion great injustice. Nevertheless, no one is free to entertain a judgment of concrete injustice while at the same time dismissing the notion of any moral obligation in relation to it (however attenuated or exiguous that obligation might be). Is it not clear to even the meanest understanding that in the present case, if one believes an injustice is being done, the obligation tends more toward the exiguous than the attenuated?

I find it interesting that the core meaning of the American founding is precisely that this republic shall endure for only so long as the consistent pursuit and practice of justice remains its inner spring. So far, that principle has held up well.

Posted by: WBA at March 2, 2005 10:45 PM