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Quote Of The Day - Terri Schiavo Starvation Watch Edition

"I think you'd be hard-pressed to convince me that you have a substantial likelihood of the parents' lawsuit succeeding."

U.S. District Judge James Whittemore, after a 2 hour hearing where Terri Schiavo's parents pleaded for an order that her feeding tube be re-inserted. Judge Won't Issue Decision on Schiavo Yet [AP]

Related: Illuminaria's Voice has been tracking the case history of Judge Whittemore, a 1999 Clinton appointee, who is said to be highly regarded by his peers. Jared Libet examines the Schiavo case going to federal court from the perspective a law student. As you can imagine the case has been a hot topic in law schools.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Quote Of The Day - Terri Schiavo Starvation Watch Edition:

» The Nose On Your Face linked with Update: Outlook Bleak For Bunny

» JackLewis.net linked with Terri Schiavo: Observations and links

Comments (40)

"I think you'd be hard-p... (Below threshold)

"I think you'd be hard-pressed to convince me that you have a substantial likelihood of the parents' lawsuit succeeding."

So shall we start painting Whittemore as an activist judge with ties to the hospice facility and advocacy of euthanasia now, or wait until the proceedings finish? Wait, correction, a liberal activist judge. Anyone?

Since, he can not possibly ... (Below threshold)

Since, he can not possibly review the case de novo without her dying from dehyrdation first, it sure doesn't give him the appearance of impartiality.

You know, I'm starting to t... (Below threshold)

You know, I'm starting to think that I just don't like reading your comments very much, Mantis. Even on those occasions when you have a valid point to make, your approach to making it is so … ugh. Unpleasant.

I wish there was an "ignore" button. It'd make my life easier. I guess I'll just adjust my reading habits instead.

Julie I agree.It a... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Julie I agree.

It appears this judge has decided against terri already, or maybe he missed the part where they had already removed the tube.

RE: Julie's post (March 21,... (Below threshold)

RE: Julie's post (March 21, 2005 09:30 PM)
Since, he can not possibly review the case de novo without her dying from dehyrdation first...

No temporary injunction to restore to allow further consideration? You know this judge has been aware since this past weekend that he would get the case - he's not ignorant so he had to have been catching up with specifics.

Or it could be he sincerely... (Below threshold)

Or it could be he sincerely believes they won't be successful. Over at Volokh, they're debating whether the parents even have standing.

Actually Whittemore was pic... (Below threshold)

Actually Whittemore was picked at random from the 12 judges in the Tampa Division of the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida. Considering the timing of everything, it's very possible that the guy didn't even realize he would have the possibility of hearing the case. We don't even know that he's heard much of the case in general, judges are busy people. So let's not get too excited yet.

This is horrible.H... (Below threshold)

This is horrible.

Honestly- I'm concerned that the parents might loose this one- not because they have a valid argument- but because they aren't using it. Everything I read that's coming from their lawyers says that the lawyers are making this a religious issue. It's not.

They should be talking about Judge Greer making himself Terri's guardian in his first original ruling. (and then ordering her death- as an "impartial" judge- how a person can act both on the best interests of Terri Schiavo and then be an impartial judge in a case like this- I don't know)

They should be talking about the other doctor's assessments that Terri is *not* in a PVS

They should be talking about Michael's interest in her death. Why has he never had to stand under questioning about his actions before and after his wife fell ill?

I could come up with a half dozen more of these- but this is long enough. My point is that I think that the Schindler family's lawyers are dropping the ball on this- they are approaching this from the completely wrong angle. They need to speak the judges language- and making this is religious issue isn't going to do it.

Since, the statute specific... (Below threshold)

Since, the statute specifically gives the parents standing, it sounds like a stupid argument.

And it's not whether the judge believes the parents will ultimately prevail, it's whether he is affording her a fair hearing under the prescribed standard of review.

Considering the voluminous amount of material the ghoulies like to point to as proof that she received a fair hearing, it's more than a bit disingenuous for this judge to pretend to be reviewing the material de novo.

Everything I have read abou... (Below threshold)

Everything I have read about this judge suggests that he's a straight shooter and even-handed jurist. Don't start knocking down the strawmen yet.

That "you're going to be hard pressed to convince me.." line is in the lexicon of every judge that put on a robe.

Jeff -- go check out my response to you at jawa.

Jeff - my apologies dude --... (Below threshold)

Jeff - my apologies dude -- wrong name.

Raina: If he doesn... (Below threshold)


If he doesn't have sufficient time to review the case, he should restore the feeding tube. A full copy of the trial court file and evidence would not be delivered until the court had jurisdiciton and was open.

The requirements of grantin... (Below threshold)

The requirements of granting a temporary restraining order are
(1) there is a substantial likelihood that the moving party will prevail on the merits; (2) the moving party will suffer irreparable injury if the temporary restraining order is not granted; (3) the threatened injury to the moving party outweighs the threatened harm the proposed injunction may cause the opposing party; and (4) the injunction, if issued, would not be adverse to the public interest.

2,3 and 4 are definitly met. So the only remaining legal questions is whether the parent's suit is likely to prevail. It's actual legal requirement, not just something the judge pulled out of his butt. I'd imagine the extra time is going to be spent on reviewing the case so far.

However, I have to agree with Jewels here, in that I don't see why the suit did not specifically bring up more of these questions.

Mantis, we don['t have to '... (Below threshold)

Mantis, we don['t have to 'paint this judge' anything- we just have to tell it like it is (same with the previously reported conflicts of interest). This judge is speculating on how he will rule on a case before him? How professional and neutral is that?

And btw, who was it here who kept saying that the doctor who examined Terri had lost his license?

See: reknowned neurologist

"...The important thing for people to understand is that she can eat and swallow right now,” said William Hammesfahr, a neurologist who has examined Schiavo. ...
"They are truly withholding food from a person who is awake, alert, and can eat and swallow,” Hammesfahr said. After spending at least 10 hours with Schiavo several years ago, he told Florida Judge George W. Greer that she can improve with therapy.

Hammesfahr said his credibility had been questioned at the time, but he has since been vindicated in court and currently maintains a thriving private practice in Clearwater, Fla. Despite reports attacking him, he said he has never lost his license to practice medicine and currently is involved in litigation surrounding the ordeal.

Hammesfahr was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology in 1999 for his work in brain injury and stroke. He is a recognized expert in treating neurological disorders, having successfully treated thousands of patients using vasodilator therapy, which increases blood flow to the brain, thus healing conditions previously thought to be untreatable.

...Schiavo previously has swallowed pudding and daily swallows almost two liters of water by virtue of being able to process her own saliva and sinus drainage.

...Other doctors who testified before Greer in 2003 had limited exposure to Schiavo and did not complete standard evaluations for brain injuries, Hammesfahr said. The court-appointed doctors maintained Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state (PVS), with no chance for recovery.

...Hammesfahr said there are at least 50 physicians he knows of, in private practice and related to medical universities who have said Schiavo is not in a PVS or in a coma.

...Her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, as well as family and supporters have argued that she could improve were she provided rehabilitation services. Michael Schiavo has refused to provide those services since around 1993, they say.[three years after her collapse]

Although Michael Schiavo says his wife would want to die, no written request from her exists. Terri Schiavo’s parents have challenged his continued guardianship of their daughter, citing conflict of interest. Michael Schiavo has lived with his girlfriend, by whom he has fathered two children, for 10 years.

Greer ruled Feb. 25 that Schiavo’s nutrition and hydration be discontinued and in subsequent decisions ruled she cannot undergo more medical testing and cannot be fed by mouth. Greer also rebuffed a request by Florida’s Department of Children and Families for a 60-day stay of his motion so that they could investigate allegations that Michael Schiavo has abused and neglected his wife.

...Angel Watson, a Pinellas Park, Fla., resident who works with the Caring and Sharing Center for Independent Living, said she once was considered to be in a PVS, after a skiing accident left her paralyzed, but that she made remarkable improvements because of her strong will to live.

Referring to the two other times Schiavo’s feeding tube was removed and surgically re-inserted, Watson said it is wrong to treat Terri as if she would not want to live.

Watson questions Michael Schiavo’s insistence that he loves his wife and cares deeply for her. Michael Schiavo, Watson said, has had ample proof that his wife wants to live.

"She’s the embodiment of a living will,” Watson said. "She is a living will. He’s tried to kill her twice and she has the will to live.

"What more [evidence] could you possibly want?"

wavemaker: I certainly hav... (Below threshold)

wavemaker: I certainly have reason to criticize his actions so far. If you disagree -- tough.

jewels: It just allows them to argue additional causes of action.

Julie, obviously we are in ... (Below threshold)

Julie, obviously we are in a hurry here, so hopefully he will be as quick as possible. But from what I've found on him, he's pretty fair and methodical and such, and wants to follow the correct legal procedure. If it's Wednesday and we still haven't heard an opinion, then I'll start to get worried.

Raina: Where did you find t... (Below threshold)

Raina: Where did you find the standard for the tko.

Raina: I don't thi... (Below threshold)


I don't think having her die of dehydration or to needlessly suffer is correct legal procedure. Sort of like the operation was a success but the patient died approach.

I hope someone can answer t... (Below threshold)
Old Coot:

I hope someone can answer this:

Judge Greer's order stipulated the removal of the feeding tube. But what is preventing Terri's caregivers from at least attempting to hydrate her orally?

Check out the Larry King Li... (Below threshold)

Check out the Larry King Live quote from Michael Schiavo. (found at this web site)

"It's not about them. It's about Terry. And I've also said that in court. We didn't know what Terry wanted, but this is what we want."

The truth usually comes out. Let's hope it's in time.

Old Coot what is preventing... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Old Coot what is preventing them is an order from the judge saying they can't do it.

I imagine that if they tried to feed her anything by mouth, Greer would hold them in contempt of court, that or Michael would deny them access to their dying daughter-both of which would be a travesty.

The specific language I quo... (Below threshold)

The specific language I quoted is from another ruling on Terri's case here

However, if you do some google searcing you can find other opinions that use similar language. For instance, see this one on the case of applying a TRO to freeze financial assets. In point 2 it says "the Commission is likely to prevail on the merits of this action." Point 3 addresses injury, public injury, etc.

I'm not a legal expert or anything, but from searching around on this I gather that these requirements are different from the requirements in other cases, like domestic violence.

Reading the statute passed ... (Below threshold)

Reading the statute passed by congress, I was unsure of her right to appeal if this court does deny the tko. However, I just heard on the radio that they want the judge to rule one way or the other soon so they can take it to the 11th Circuit.

I'm sort of curious what they mean by "health care proxy" in that they allege there was a conflict of interest b/c Greer served as a health care proxy and a trial judge.

That's okay, raina, I just ... (Below threshold)

That's okay, raina, I just looked up some recent 11th circuit case law. You got it right. Whether there is substatntial likelihood depends on whether they can articulate cause of action. That she was denied procedural d/p because Greer failed to appt. a GAL and an atty for her appear to be the strongest.

So even though she might be... (Below threshold)
Old Coot:

So even though she might be able to swallow liquids along with her own saliva, medical caregivers who have sworn an oath to do no harm are not even allowed to find out? What would be the downside....that she might choke/aspirate the fluid?

Or is it finally getting through my thick head that Judge Greer has not just ordered removal of artificial support, but has essentially ordered her death?

Yes, Old Coot, the judge sp... (Below threshold)

Yes, Old Coot, the judge specifically ruled that it could not be attempted to feed Terri because she might choke/aspirate. Basically he said, "You can't attempt to do something that might save her life, because it might kill her." Yeah, that's real robust reasoning. Under that reasoning, we shouldn't be performing surgery on people with, say, fatal internal bleeding because they might die from the ansthesia.

Bingo, Old Coot.... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

Bingo, Old Coot.

I'm bemused, but mostly sic... (Below threshold)

I'm bemused, but mostly sickened by the low standard of understanding of the law being promoted in most of the above comments. Those of you who see Terri Schiavo as the Virgin Martyr Mark II might want to actually take the time and effort--and it will take both--to read the court documents and the report of the GAL to Gov. Bush. You can find them all at Abstract AppealK, a blog written by a Florida attorney who takes no side in the matter. Reading the record of the judgments--not every word of each trial--should take you about five hours of solid reading.

The preposterous conclusions being drawn from 4.3 minutes of videoclips taken out of 4.5 hours of videotape are simply wishful thinking. Six courts have weighed in on this case. Now a federal court will do so.

Even before a decision is handed down, you're decrying the judge, the process, and continue slandering Michael Schiavo even though it wasn't his decision to withdraw the feeding tubes. It was the court, acting on what it best understood Terri Schiavo's wishes to be, even under the standard of "erring on the side of life" that made that decision. And that decision has been upheld in every single appeal.

Prepare yourselves for Terri Schiavo's death. She did not come into this world with a personal exemption from the fact of death. Whether it happens now, next week, or twenty years from now, she is mortal. No amount of wishful thinking can change that.

Absent a miracle, there is no known procedure that will regenerate her brain. An MRI--which is counterindicated because of previous efforts to help her--will not change the fact that most, if not all, of her cerebral cortex has disintegrated.

Hey John: Most, if not all... (Below threshold)

Hey John: Most, if not all, of *your* cerebral cortex has disintegrated, asshat.

Terri's father said tonight... (Below threshold)

Terri's father said tonight on Hannity that he and his wife are searched several times before they can even reach Terri's room. Gotta make sure they aren't sneaking in any water or food for their daughter.......

Good God People.

Six courts eh? At least he ... (Below threshold)
been there:

Six courts eh? At least he does not claim 19 judges like George Felos and Michael Schiavo.

From an article by Wesley Smith:

The Myth of 19 Judges: Supporters of Terri's dehydration often argue that Terri's rights have been fully protected through extensive judicial oversight. Michael Schiavo put it this way on “Larry King Live”: “Nineteen judges have come to the conclusion that this [dehydration] was Terri's wish.” His attorney George Felos then added, “This case has gone from the trial court to the appellate Court to the Florida Supreme Court, to the U.S. Supreme Court, to the Federal District Court. All of those judges have looked at this case, have looked at the facts, and have found that Mike acted properly.”

Well, bunk. The case has been shunted back and forth between the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court and the Florida Second District Court of Appeal, where the rulings have been repeatedly replayed like a looping audio tape. Only one trial judge and one appellate court actually reviewed the evidentiary record. Moreover, contrary to Felos's assertion, the Florida Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court did not look at the facts. Rather, both declined to review the case. Refusing to rule is not the same thing at all as studying the record.

This is a crucial point because many important and highly relevant facts have never been fully litigated. For example, because the Schindlers could not afford to hire a neurologist to examine Terri at the time of the original trial, Judge Greer heard only one perspective about Terri's medical condition.

This situation has now changed. Several doctors and rehabilitation experts have signed affidavits asserting not only that Terri is conscious, but also that she could be weaned off her feeding tube with rehabilitation. Judge Greer refused to permit this evidence to be presented fully in open court, however, because to do so, he said, would be to retry the case.

But the case should be retried. A human life is at stake. And there are many other issues in addition to the heterodox expert medical opinions about Terri's condition that must be considered if justice is to prevail over mere legal procedure.

So, the judge admits that h... (Below threshold)

So, the judge admits that he is not impartial. Not like I am surprised.

been there: thanks for sh... (Below threshold)

been there: thanks for sharing all of that. The more I read about Michael Schiavo and his counsel, the more I agree with my first impression about his psychology based upon the many strange expressions he has made about Terry and others. And that is that he's not a reliable personality, not competent to be representing Terry Schiavo, to put it very, very kindly about Michael Schiavo.

I think that there is ample evidence to suggest quite the contrary...

However, yes, the "case should be retried." Those persons insisting on moving on, that the court's decision/s should be allowed to stand and that's that...are more focused on other aspects and not on Terry Schiavo's individual life. They seem to intensely overlook the importance of that last part. As has and does Michael Schiavo.

Fine, retry the case. Fine, allow the woman to live. What's the problem with those?

Well apparantly the Federal... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Well apparantly the Federal judge involved has opted not to have the feeding tube put back in. The Schindler's can of course appeal, but it looks like this is the end for them and for Terri.

It's now being announced (F... (Below threshold)

It's now being announced (FOX News) that there's been an "intent to appeal" filed in the Schiavo case. Everyone on FOX, announcers and commentors, all seem very depressed...pictures of Terri Schiavo show her looking far more glum and stressed than usual to my view.

TRO denied...Terri's still without food and water. You know, human beings are looking very, very stupid to me this morning (not FOX, but as a species). At least those in Florida.

Some fella on FOX just asse... (Below threshold)

Some fella on FOX just asserted, with a decisive ending comment, that the courts exist to establish fact...hmmm, at this point, it's not looking too favorable as to that point where Florida is concerned.

My comments here are based upon the history of how and what has been taken into consideration on Terri Schiavo's behalf BY "the court", the full history of that. So much information that would have made a difference, inaccurately disallowed and even cast aside in lieu of some steadfast commitment to what Michael Schiavo wants, without focus on what is best in terms of care for Terri Schiavo and that's what is most offensive to my view.

Which I write (^^) because ... (Below threshold)

Which I write (^^) because Terri Schiavo left no written directive about her wishes for her own behalf. Instead, she left a history of verbal comments to persons who knew/know her well, and the only people who claim she said that she would 'not want to live' are Michael Schiavo and his siblings (I believe that's the case here).

What the court has done is ensure Michael Schiavo's "rights" as spouse, but have not taken into consideration the rights of a person, Terri Schiavo, to be alleviated from pain and suffering, to maintain her life.

RE: -S-'s post (March 22, 2... (Below threshold)

RE: -S-'s post (March 22, 2005 09:19 AM)
...Everyone on FOX, announcers and commentors, all seem very depressed...pictures of Terri Schiavo show her looking far more glum and stressed than usual to my view.

Sorry, -S-. I probably should have commented on this earlier.

What do you mean pictures of Terri Schiavo? Did they show current photos? I'm certain they didn't since that would be a gross invasion of privacy. So, that would mean the media presented another group of photos which, from your perception, is not from the typical collection that they have been presenting and certainly not the loop that has received so much recent airtime. Can you say "media manipulation"? Did they disclose dates along with the new photos to correlate images with story?

I find such reportage, if true, to be unethical whether from CNN, FOX, or other MSM source. My cynicism of FOX just went up a notch, and I have given them a pass on a few things as far as style of presentation.

Did anyone else notice such a phenomenon?

Ah hah...I thought so. Ter... (Below threshold)
Dana Waterton:

Ah hah...I thought so. Terri's long time friend stated she and Terri were together weekends and nights after work...they were considering divorce and discussed these issues. The friend had to drive since Michael watched Terri like a hawk...her mileage. Terri had blossomed a bit...gotten heavier and that was apparently not to Mike's liking. However, what's interesting here is that Terri knew Karen Anne Quinlan's story, and didn't want her to die, and told her friend that...now that speaks volumes in the mouth of a trusted friend, not an escaping 'spouse'.

Terri needs to be given to her parents to love, and not deprived of water and food. As a nurse I often wonder why more of her nurses don't speak out. Nurses are there 24/7...ah yes...they'd get fired for saying how much Terri participated in life, and that she really wanted to live. Doctors see her for 25 minutes or less and up to 10 hours if I read the documents correctly, and they say that Terri is a vegetable...trust me....Terri's no carrot....and she does not have a Schiavo heart....

This cheering for someone's death on Michael's part and many polls as well, is ghoulish...just because no one wants to be in her place is no reason FOR TERRI TO LOSE HER PLACE IN LIFE.
The disabled can speak to this "place in life" better than I can...SPEAK UP YOU GUYS...SAY WHAT LIFE IS LIKE FOR YOU.

TO PROTECT ANY WELLNESS TERRI HAS LEFT IS GOOD...AND DON'T TELL ME OR ANY MEDICALLY ORIENTED PEOPLE SHE IS A LOST CAUSE...WE'VE SEEN TOO MANY DOAs and straightliners 'rise from the dead'. My own grandfather...doa. We insisted he be given O2 and back he came, despite the death decree of the ER at the hospital. He'd been without air for about 10 minutes or more. Pneumonia was cured...and he started breathing on his own and lived another 10 years...and walked me down the aisle. :)

Let her live...don't predict hopelessness...tomorrow is another day, and today is the day for her parents to hug her and love her til she passes naturally into God's arms , all in God's timing.

Michael is such a bleak experience each time I hear him that I will not comment on his kind love for his wife...but to be loved like that would be a death sentence for anyone's individual humanity dead or alive. Step up...who's next for Mike's control of friends, relatives, drugs, rehab, light and transportation...and now food and WATER. I'd hate to be in Michael's shoes in 100 years or less, when he stands alone before the eyes of GOD...when popularity polls do not determine the sins of the population of earth. However, God's love and forgiveness is still available today, even for murderers and adulterers and liars and for anyone with unforgiven sins stuck to their lives....including, ti seems the hard hearted...and for me--I need forgiveness as well. I have a moral compass, and at this holy week I rejoice in Jesus Christ Who paid in full for my sins...past present and future...and I want to be more like Him....and serve those who can't speak for themselves, orphans and widows, and I might add the disabled children and adults all around us. I care for a Mom with strokes and dimentias...and her spouse's attorney called her "a body". Well she walks with help, smiles, eats chocolate chip cookies and needs help with all of that...at home, in her own familar living room, in her own bed at night with grandchildren's pictures around and family coming and going....home care is not easy or perfect but it is where people feel like they have roots...and one day Mom will also take flight with God-given wings. There is a time to be born and a time to die...to laugh and cry...to dance and not dance, so wrote King Solomon.

Creator, God in a bod, Risen Savior Whose tomb is empty. I know where Terri's headed...and I hope it's after she experiences more of God's love through God's own family here on earth.

I am tired of hearing about... (Below threshold)

I am tired of hearing about this person when there is so much suffering and injustice in the world as a whole. The Religous Right has grabbed on to this and the press is riding the train. How sad. Bush is taking us back to the dark ages.

If God wanted her to live he would zap her back to health. She ain't no saint--just a poor person caught up in religion and politics and I am tired of my tax dollars paying for this. There are thousands of people in the same situation dying right now. I don't see any bible thumpers at thier bedsides.

And who is sneaking her water? NO ONE can live for more than 5 days without water.

Please let this be over soon!!!!!!! Hey people, if the press had put this much effort into over 1,500 dead soldiers (all dead for oil and Bush's oil buddies) our sons and daughters would be home now and a lot more would be alive.

You people want to help someone? Go do something for the homeless wandering our streets. Take them into your homes, feed them. Find a child who is poorly fed--easy to do if you open your friggin eyes.






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