Schiavo judge to speak on end of life

George Greer will appear at Tiger Bay and a symposium in May.

Published March 14, 2006

Pinellas Circuit Judge George Greer, whose decisions in the Terri Schiavo case made him a hero to some and a foe to others, will speak at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club today and will appear at a symposium about end-of-life issues this spring.

Greer said Monday that he may speak about end-of-life and separation of powers issues at the Tiger Bay Club meeting today, but will not discuss the Schiavo case specifically.

On May 1, he will appear on a panel at the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Bioethics Symposium, which is titled "The Legacy of the Terri Schiavo Case: Why Is it So Hard to Die in America."

Michael Schiavo also will appear at the symposium, though he will speak the day before Greer.

"I would not anticipate seeing him" at the symposium, Greer said Monday. He said he didn't know Schiavo was scheduled to speak at the symposium when he agreed to attend.

Greer allowed Michael Schiavo to oversee the removal of his wife's feeding tube last year, despite the protests of Terri Schiavo's parents and siblings. The case drew worldwide attention. Terri Schiavo died in her Pinellas Park hospice room on March 31, 13 days after her feeding tube was removed.

Many who supported Terri Schiavo's parents vilified Greer, who was the subject of death threats. Greer has since been honored by several legal groups for holding his ground as some lawmakers tried to overturn his decisions.

At the May 1 symposium, Greer will be the lead speaker on a panel that will discuss "Who Should Decide: Courts/Legislators?"

Greer hasn't discussed the Schiavo case publicly and said he doesn't intend to start now.

"It doesn't appear that's what this panel is about," he said. "It's more philosophical about which branch of government should be involved in making end-of-life decisions for people."

When asked how he would react if asked directly about the Schiavo case while on the panel, Greer said: "I'll make that decision when I get there."

Greer said he also will be giving upcoming Law Day speeches in Pensacola and Citrus County. The theme of those speeches will be separation of powers.

"There are reasons courts make decisions when there are disputes," Greer said. "That's what courts are for."