Schiavo Case To Stay In Pinellas County, Appeals Court
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 23, 2004
TAMPA, FLORIDA--Michael Schiavo's suit against Governor Jeb Bush over the constitutionality of "Terri's Law" will remain in Pinellas County Court, an appeals court ruled Friday.
The 2nd District Court of Appeal disagreed with the governor's attorneys, who argued that Mr. Schiavo failed to file the suit properly when he chose Tampa instead of Tallahassee. The appeals court said Bush's legal team should have brought that up at an emergency hearing that was held the night Bush ordered Terri Schiavo's feeding tube reinserted.
Mr. Schiavo filed the suit on October 22, 2003, when "Terri's Law" was passed, giving the governor the authority to have his wife's feeding tube reinserted. Bush had championed the bill through the Legislature in just five days after Terri's feeding tube was withdrawn under an earlier court order.
Mr. Schiavo believes the governor violated Terri's right to privacy, along with the Florida Constitution's separation of powers.
Terri, 40, currently lives in a Clearwater nursing home. Court appointed doctors, along with her husband, believe that she has been in a "persistent vegetative state" -- that she cannot interact with her surroundings, cannot feel pain, and cannot recover -- since she collapsed and her brain was without oxygen for several minutes in 1990. She regulates her own heart rate and breathing, but is given food and water through a feeding tube installed through the wall of her stomach.
The courts have consistently supported Michael Schiavo's claims that his wife would not have wanted to live in her presented condition. He successfully petitioned to have her feeding tube removed so she would die of starvation and dehydration on October 16.
Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, believe that she is alert and responsive and that she could improve with therapies which Mr. Schiavo has refused to allow. The Schindlers want him removed as Terri's guardian and have pushed for an investigation into their claims that he has abused, neglected and financially exploited her. They also suspect that he may have caused Terri's initial collapse.
The Schindlers and disability rights 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. Bush pushed for "Terri's Law" after receiving tens of thousands of messages from disability rights advocates and right to life supporters.
Bush's attorneys said Friday that they were not surprised at the appellate court's ruling.
"Terri Schiavo's Right To Live" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)