Home / Glimmer of Legal Hope for Schiavo’s Parents

Glimmer of Legal Hope for Schiavo’s Parents

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The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals: “The Appellant’s emergency motion for leave to file out of time is granted.”

Entering her thirteenth day without nourishment, late Tuesday Terri Schiavo’s family received their first positive legal news since the U.S. Congress took up her case in an emergency session ten days ago.

The Circuit Court didn’t say when it would decide whether to grant the hearing, and it was not clear what effect reconnecting Schiavo’s feeding tube would have on her at this late date. Schiavo’s father Bob Schindler described his daughter as “failing” on Tuesday. “She still looks pretty darn good under the circumstances. You can see the impact of no food and water for 12 days. Her bodily functions are still working. We still have her.”

Mary Schindler, Schiavo’s mother, made this appeal to Michael Schiavo: “Michael and Jodi, you have your own children. Please, please give my child back to me.”

AP reports:

    In requesting a new hearing, the Schindlers argued that a federal judge in Tampa should have considered the entire state court record and not whether previous Florida court rulings met legal standards under state law. It also stated that the Atlanta federal appellate court didn’t consider whether there was enough “clear and convincing” evidence that Terri Schiavo would have chosen to die in her current condition.

    …The request for a new hearing also asks to have the tube reinserted immediately “in light of the magnitude of what is at stake and the urgency of the action required.”

    …Their attorneys raised the issue of the new request after a Saturday deadline set by the court, saying they have had more time to research the issues and have become convinced that the federal court in Tampa had “committed plain error when it reviewed only the state court case and outcome history.”

    Attorneys for the Schindlers have argued that Terri Schiavo’s rights to life and privacy were being violated.

    “I think the courts want to be sure that there’s no accusation that any legal argument was ignored,” said attorney Neal Sonnett, former chairman of the American Bar Association’s criminal justice section.

Fresh off of his fawning radio interview with Michael Jackson on Sunday, Jesse Jackson entered the fray on the side of the Schindlers. He prayed with them and called to have the feeding tube reinserted. “I feel so passionate about this injustice being done, how unnecessary it is to deny her a feeding tube, water, not even ice to be used for her parched lips. This is a moral issue and it transcends politics and family disputes.” Grandstanding or not, I think Jesse is on the right side of this.

I personally have back and forth as to the “proper” course of action here, although I have come to the conclusion that the federal government should not have intervened, setting an absurd precedent for future interventions, which they acknowledged by explicitly saying their action was NOT a precedent: “Do as we say, not as we do,” or some such nonsense.

However on the matter of Terri Schiavo herself, I still see no compelling reason to kill the woman by detaching her feeding tube, her life eking away over a period now approaching two weeks – it’s an appalling, cruel image.

Economist Steven E. Landsburg provides some fascinating perspective on the Schiavo matter in Slate:

    on to the preferences of her husband and parents. This is essentially a fight about what to do with her body: He wants to dispose of it; they want to feed it. And the question arises: Once someone has decided to dispose of a resource, why would we want to stop someone else from retrieving it? If I throw out a toaster, and you want to retrieve it from my trash, there’s a net economic gain. If Michael Schiavo essentially throws out his wife’s body and her parents want to retrieve it, it seems pointless to prevent them.

    …certain preferences shouldn’t count when we do cost-benefit analysis. In particular, a preference to prevent someone else from doing something he wants to do, just for the sake of stopping him, is not a preference we want to cater to. That’s a very dangerous position, because it raises all sorts of questions about where to draw the line, and I have no idea how to answer most of those questions … But the alternative, it seems to me, is to endorse the tyranny of the bluenoses.

    …I have less understanding of why Schiavo’s parents want to keep feeding her. And insofar as they want others to keep feeding her—through Medicare, etc.—I think we can safely ignore their preferences. But provided they and their supporters are willing to bear those costs, I infer that this is something they want very much and there’s not much reason to stop them.

    You could argue in response that Michael Schiavo has signaled an equally strong desire to bury her (by turning down an offer of $1 million and by some reports $10 million), but I see an essential difference between the two desires. One—the desire to feed—is like the desire to read … some … writer in whom I personally see no merit. The other—the desire to prevent others from feeding—is like the desire to censor, and I recoil from censorship even when a strict cost-benefit analysis recommends it.

What is gained from killing this woman by removing her feeding tube? Why does Michael Schiavo want her dead? Why didn’t he just divorce her and move on?

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About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted, Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.
  • Eric Olsen

    hard to tell what his angle is

  • When Jesse Jackson shows up on your side you should know that your position has lost all real merit.


  • Eric Olsen

    who ISN’T grandstanding?

  • Is no one going to mention the “do as I say not as I do aspects of theis case as relating to certain vocal parties who have been vehemently grandstanding?

    There are two, that I know of. I haven’t got time to detail it now.

  • As long as she is still alive, the media circus continues. Her parents may love her, but only her death can stop the spectacle. Have you noticed the attention is on all those people who decided to step in where their help was not asked for?

  • gonzo marx

    decent Points made Eric..

    however..this goes beyond the simple Logic of cost analysis , and is directly derived from “final Wishes” of the individual involved..

    the Courts have ruled, and upheld..that this WAs her personal Wish..to NOT continue under such circumstances..

    we can argue the right or wrong of it, each has their own Opinion..but the fact of the matter is that the appropriate Court..via due process as described under Florida Law..determined that this was the Will of the person in Question..ie:Terri Schiavo

    if we go with the Postulate that each Individual has the Right to make these determinations, and that in the case of a Dispute..the Court has the obligation to find fact, and make a Decision..

    then i fail to see where ANY other consideration by ANYONE enters into it..

    the ONLY point that can be disputed, under these circumstances…is that this was actually her Will…all else is moot

    so far due process has upheld the initial Court Ruling that this was, indeed , her Will and Desire..

    so no matter how ANY of the rest of us feel about it…whose business is it beyond the person involved…her immediate Family..and the appropriate Court as per Florida Law and due process?

    i feel deeply for both sides of this Question…but that’s why we have the Courts and the Rule of Law…to work this out in an Objective manner..

    hopefully it will be Ended soon enough…


  • Eric Olsen

    his somewhat convoluted argument is that the wishes of the living should supercede those of the “dead” when it comes to the disposition of the body

    I’m not endorsing his view whole, just saying it’s another perspective saying the case for continued feeding is more compelling

  • Bennett

    “This is essentially a fight about what to do with her body: He wants to dispose of it; they want to feed it. And the question arises: Once someone has decided to dispose of a resource, why would we want to stop someone else from retrieving it?”

    No reason at all, EXCEPT that the courts have determined time and time again that Terri made it clear to her husband that SHE did not want to be kept alive by extreme measures.

    If I go veggie, my wife knows to let me go flatline as well, ASAP.