Judge Baird Again Denies Schindlers' Request To Intervene In
"Terri's Law" Case
Pinellas Circuit Judge W. Douglas Baird on Thursday ruled for the second time that the Schindlers could not be involved in Michael Schiavo's court battle against Governor Jeb Bush over "Terri's Law". Last October, Bush championed the law through the Legislature, giving him permission to have Terri's feeding tube reinserted six days after it had been removed under a court order.
"The litigation will resolve whether the decision regarding her life belongs to Mrs. Schiavo or to the governor," Baird wrote in his decision. "In either event, the Schindlers will not gain or lose by the direct legal operation and effect of the judgment."
Last month, the 2nd District Court of Appeal ordered Judge Baird to hold further proceedings to re-examine his earlier decision denying the Schindlers the right to join Bush in the case. The appellate court said that Baird refused to follow judicial rules when he refused to allow the Schindlers to intervene.
"We are disappointed with the decision and will consider all options including another appeal to Florida's 2nd District Court of Appeal, which has previously overturned Judge Baird on this very issue," Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ, which represents the Schindlers in the state case, said in a statement. "It is our belief that the decision is legally flawed and ignores the fact that the parents have legally sound reasons for intervening directly in this case."
"The court failed to acknowledge that the Schindlers meet the proper legal standard for intervention. The decision is not only disappointing, but troubling as well."
Michael Schiavo sued the governor, claiming that he and the Florida Legislature violated his wife's privacy and overstepped the state's constitutional bounds when they passed "Terri's Law".
Disability rights advocates have been watching Terri's legal battle for several years. Her husband, who is also her guardian, and several doctors claim that she has been in a "persistent vegetative state" since she collapsed and her brain was without oxygen for several minutes in February 1990. The courts have consistently supported Mr. Schiavo's claims that Terri cannot recover from her injury, that she does not feel pain, and that she would not have wanted to live "by artificial means".
Terri's parents believe that she is alert and responsive and that she could improve with therapies which Mr. Schiavo has denied her for at least the past 10 years. They have claimed that Terri's husband wants her to die so that he can remarry, and so he can benefit from what's left of an insurance settlement that now pays for her treatment. The Schindlers want him removed as Terri's guardian and have pushed for an investigation into their allegations that he has abused, neglected and financially exploited her. They also suspect that Michael may have caused Terri's initial collapse.
The Schindlers and advocates have defended Terri's right to live, noting that allowing her to die by starvation would reinforce the message that the lives of people with certain disabilities are not worth living. With their urging and that of right-to-life advocates, Governor Bush championed the measure which allowed the legislature to give him permission to order Terri's feeding tube reinserted to save her life.
Reproduced here under special arrangement
with Inclusion Daily Express
disability rights news service.