Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Judge Greer's Mistakes

Patterico catches Judge Greer in small, but consequential, mistake. Greer's "clear and convincing evidence" ruling on Terri Schiavo's "wish to be dehydrated to death" was based in part on excluding the testimony of Diane Meyer, a witness who contradicted Michaelf Schiavo's new-found realization that his wife wanted him to have her killed. (Remember, in 1992, when he was testifying in a medical malpractice suit on Terri's behalf, he didn't think Terri wanted to die--that came after the court awarded him $1.3 million dollars, $750,000 of which was tied up in a trust for Terri's care, and therefore available to him only after her death.)

But back to Greer. The judge's tortured reasoning for excluding Meyer's testimony is that he thought she was making her story up since in her account, she and Terri were making a joke about Karen Ann Quinlan in 1982, but were using present tense verbs to describe Quinlan. Greer dismisses Meyer with a Perry Mason moment:
The court is mystified as to how those present tense verbs would have been used some six years after the death of Karen Ann Quinlin. [sic]

But, as Patterico notes, Quinlan died in 1985, not 1976 or 1977 (as Greer clearly thinks). The verb tenses in Meyer's story are appropriate and her testimony should not have been excluded. This is simply one more instance of willful and capricious behavior on the part of Judge Greer.

For even more instances of Greer's willful and capricious behavior, see this Wesley Smith article on "the rule of Terri's case." (Note to readers: If you're interested in finding Wesley Smith's affiliations, please follow the links I provide to his pieces and then look at his byline. Really, it's not that hard.)

For instance: Florida law requires Terri's guardian (Michael Schiavo) to "file mandatory annual guardianship plans to establish a ward's approved plan of care for the coming year" (that's Smith's paraphrase, follow the link to get the actual letter of the law). Michael Schiavo refused to file these plans of care and was granted six extensions by Judge Greer--meaning that Schiavo went at least three years without filing plan for care of Terri, as is required by Florida law, and that Greer actively helped him skirt this law designed to protect his ward.

At nearly every step in the Schiavo case, Judge George Greer has acted with prejudice and disregard for the truth, the evidence, the rule of law, and the cause of justice. When this ordeal is over, the people of Florida should examine Judge Greer's actions in detail and take whatever recourse is allowed them under state law.

Update, 10:56 a.m.: As commenter Cal notes, Patterico is not the first person on earth to note Judge Greer's mistake, but he is the first person in the blogosphere (that I've seen, anyway), to call attention to it. The fact that Patterico says this himself in his post which I linked to--and then addresses Greer's because-I-say-so response--would, I thought, have made this obvious to readers.


Anonymous said...

Patterico didn't "catch" the judge in that error. The Schindler lawyers did. Here's the judge's response.

Agree or disagree with the response, but let's not pretend that it was Patterico who made this great discovery when the entire issue has been raised and settled.

One of the things that really bothers me about the various articles I've read on this subject is how incredibly little people know about what's already happened in the case.

For example, Michael Schiavo offered to donate the remaining $700,000 to charity in 1998, so Terri Schiavo's parents would know he wasn't testifying for financial reasons. Or that there's no money in her trust fund now, so he has no financial motive to continue--or that, even if he changed his mind, nothing would change because it's not Michael Schiavo who is removing the feeding tube.

Three different guardians ad litem, including one appointed by Governor Bush, have reviewed Michael Schiavo's care and found it exemplary. If the failure to file treatment plans was substantial abuse, don't you think Jay Wolfson would have pointed it out, rather than saying that Schiavo did an outstanding job? How many people are involved in this conspiracy with Judge Greer? The appellate court, who completely reviewed the facts in the second trial--and did you know there were two trials? The Florida legislature, who wrote the law that Greer followed? Governor Bush, who signed the additional legislation that allowed removal of artificial life support (feeding tubes) in cases of PVS?

I don't care which way one sides on the issue. I understand and sympathize with those who oppose removing feeding tubes. I just can't see why so many people will casually go on and on about "facts" that simply aren't true or have already been argued.

Terri Schiavo FAQ for the Uncommitted.

Anonymous said...

Patterico, I was over at your site all ready to snarl in righteous indignation. Then I saw that you mentioned the judge's decision. I absolve thee. (g)

Anonymous said...

In regards to your correction: Narrowing it down from "Patterico caught it" to "first in the blogosphere" to "the ones I've read, anyway", is only evidence that you need to read up on this a bit more, wouldn't you say?

Abstract Appeal is a well-regarded source of unbiased information on the case. He's been on MSNBC once or twice to talk about the case. So why not check out a few things before you continue to contribute to the misinformation out there? Anyone who read your original post would think that here's another piece of information that hasn't been introduced into evidence, and that's just not true.

How many blogs have you seen mention Carla Iyer, the nurse whose affidavit accused Michael Schiavo of completely neglecting his wife's care? Never mind blogs, how many times have you seen her on TV? The coverage gives the impression that this information is brand new and must be heard.

And yet it's almost never mentioned that the judge found her affidavit completely unbelievable (if she was calling the Schindlers every day about this, why wouldn't the Schindlers have used her at a witness at the guardian hearing or the two trials?), or that his decision on this was upheld by the appellate court.

It's important to include relevant information. If you don't know the relevant information, then why post on it in the assumption that every thing you read must be true and complete? You're a journalist. You know better.