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Mercy in Florida? Will new court rulings in Florida help save Terri Schiavo's life? Or is "The Rule of Terri's Case" here to stay?

Wesley J. Smith

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"The damndest thing just happened," an early morning caller who is close to the Schiavo case enthused on my voice mail. "The Second District Court of Appeal actually decided to start applying the law."

That would be big news. One of the most outrageous aspects of the Terri Schiavo debacle has been the almost universal adherence by the trial and appellate courts to the "The Rule of Terri's Case," a term coined by attorney Pat Anderson, who represents Terri's folks, Bob and Mary Schindler: "If following a legal procedure will likely result in Terri dying, it will be adhered to. But if a procedure could make that outcome more difficult to attain, it will not be followed."

Judges George W. Greer and W. Douglas Baird, both of the Sixth Judicial Circuit, have consistently applied The Rule of Terri's Case in their respective rulings. (Judge Greer is in charge of the guardianship case, and ordered Terri dehydrated to death. Judge Baird presides over the litigation filed against Gov. Jeb Bush by Terri's guardian Michael Schiavo to declare "Terri's Law" unconstitutional. Terri's Law permitted Bush to intervene and stop Terri's dehydration.)

Here's one example of Judge Greer following The Rule of Terri's Case: For nearly three years, he has not required Michael Schiavo to file the statutorily-required annual guardianship plan, which the court must approve each year in order to ensure that the ward receives proper and appropriate care. This protection is deemed so important in Florida law that court approval of the plan is the act that conveys legal authority upon the guardian to make decisions on behalf of the ward. Yet, in an astonishing application of the Rule of Terri's Case, Michael has six times requested--and Greer has six times granted--requests for time extensions in which to file the annual guardianship plans. As a consequence, there has been no court-approved plan in place to protect Terri since June 30, 2001.

Read the entire article on the Weekly Standard website.

Posted: 2/24/04



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