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Judge allows parents to visit Terri
Posted By Sarah Foster On 06/08/2004 @ 11:45 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled
Terri responding to her mother in video clip available on terrisfight.org
Terri Schindler-Schiavo’s parents and siblings are allowed to visit her whenever they
wish without supervision, a Florida probate court judge has ruled, ending
an eight-week ban on visitation imposed by the 40-year-old, brain-disabled
woman’s estranged husband, Michael Schiavo.
order Friday, Judge George Greer restored full visitation rights to Terri’s
parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, and her brother and sister, Robert
[Bobby] Schindler, Jr., and Suzanne Carr. Certain friends, too, may visit if
accompanied by a family member. It is one of the few victories the
Schindlers have won in the intense legal battle to block their son-in-law’s efforts to end Terri’s life
by removing the feeding tube she depends on for food and water.
“The family is of course delighted that all visitation has been restored for
Terri because she has been in isolation for more than two months,” said
attorney Patricia Anderson, who represents the Schindlers. “Not only her
parents, but Terri herself suffered greatly in not being permitted to see
the people she loves, the people who are not trying to kill her but who want
her to live and get better.”
Except for two recent visits, Bob and Mary Schindler had not seen their
daughter since March 29, when mysterious marks alleged to be “puncture
wounds” were found on her arms after they visited her at the Park Place
assisted living facility in Clearwater, Fla., her residence since
mid-December. Schiavo – who as Terri’s legal guardian exercises absolute
control over her – summarily barred all visitors pending the outcome of a
police investigation he demanded.
The investigation took over six weeks. On May 14, in its
HREF="http://www.zimp.org/pr">long-awaited report, the Clearwater Police Department
announced detectives had found no evidence of the parents or anyone else
sticking the defenseless woman with a hypodermic needle either to inject a
drug or withdraw blood or causing any physical injury to her. There was no
evidence of any criminal activity whatsoever.
The Schindlers were completely exonerated, but Schiavo refused to lift his
At a hearing May
26, Schiavo’s attorneys, Deborah Bushnell and Scott Swope, a new player
on his legal team, argued against unsupervised visitation and urged further
restrictions on what people could do when visiting Terri. Bushnell insisted
the Schindlers had not been cleared and because the marks remained
unexplained the investigation was still ongoing.
Probate Judge George Greer (Photo: Bay News 9)
Greer disagreed and for once ruled in favor of Terri’s parents. He ordered
Schiavo to restore his in-laws visitation rights and denied his request for
“The court is as perplexed as anyone as to what actually occurred, but the
[Clearwater] PD has assured us that the cause was non-criminal in nature,”
he wrote. “That is sufficient for this inquiry. Therefore, visitation should
Greer said much of the testimony and arguments offered by Bushnell and
Swope in their effort to restrict visitation, dealt with the incident of
“… [I]nasmuch as the Clearwater Police Department has concluded that no crime
took place, it shall not now be utilized as the basis of action against Mr.
and Mrs. Schindler,” Greer stated. “The court will not substitute its
judgment for that of learned police officers who conducted the exhaustive
However, Bushnell and Swope were successful in reminding the judge of
Schindler’s violation of a court order last fall. The desperate father had
made a video of his daughter, showing her alert and responsive, and on the
day she was scheduled to have her feeding tube removed he gave a copy to
anti-abortion activist Randall Terry for dissemination to the media.
“The court may have no alternative but to later require Mr. Schindler to
show cause why he should not be held in contempt,” Greer said.
He added that not only should the Schindler family members act “appropriately” during
a visit, he relied on them to monitor the conduct of relatives and friends.
“The court now is concerned whether or not it may continue to so rely upon
them. At the very least, this is something which may be considered should
further violations of court orders occur,” Greer warned.
Bushnell told reporters her client has not decided whether to request a
As WorldNetDaily reported, Terri suffered massive brain injury when she
collapsed under unexplained circumstances in the couple’s apartment in
February 1990, at the age of 26. Oxygen to her brain was cut off for several
minutes, leaving her severely brain-disabled, incapacitated, and dependent
upon a feeding tube for sustenance.
Four years ago Schiavo convinced Judge Greer that Terri is in a persistent
vegetative state, or PVS – a requirement under Florida law for removing a
feeding tube from someone not terminally ill, so they will starve to death.
Through a series of legal maneuvers the Schindlers managed to keep the case
and their daughter alive, but their options appeared to have run out last
year when 2nd District Court of Appeal made a final ruling in Schiavo’s
favor and the Florida Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
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Michael Schiavo (Photo: WFLA-TV)
In October, Terri endured six days without nourishment or hydration before
state lawmakers passed “Terri’s Law” that allowed Gov. Jeb Bush to step in
and order her feeding tube reinserted, an action immediately challenged by
attorney George Felos, who represents Schiavo in his effort to remove his
wife’s feeding tube.
On May 6, Pinellas County Circuit Court Judge W. Douglas Baird handed
Schiavo a victory by ruling Terri’s Law unconstitutional. Last week, over
the objections of Gov. Jeb Bush, the appeal court sent the case directly to
the Florida Supreme Court after agreeing with Felos that the matter was of
great public importance and deserved immediate attention.
The Florida Supreme Court can either take the case or send it back to the
appeal court, directing the lower court to hear it and issue a ruling.
Information, including court documents, are posted on the Schindler
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