Schiavo case returns to appeals court
By J. NEALY-BROWN
© St. Petersburg Times,
LAKELAND -- The circuitous legal battle over the fate of Terri Schiavo returned to the 2nd District Court of Appeal on Tuesday as attorneys on both sides sought a favorable ruling from a three-judge panel.
Mrs. Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, have fought for a decade to keep their daughter alive. Her husband, Michael Schiavo, thinks his wife should be allowed to die.
The legal tug of war seemed to be drawing to an end April 24 when doctors, obeying a ruling by the same appellate court, stopped feeding her though a tube.
About 50 hours later, the feeding was resumed after the Schindlers made a surprise legal maneuver and prevailed in a lower court.
On Monday, Schiavo's attorney returned to the appellate court and asked the judges to confirm their earlier decision.
Attorney George Felos accused the Schindlers of a "malicious attempt" to stop the court's prior ruling by filing a lawsuit with a different lower court judge.
"Legal proceedings can be used or abused," Felos said after nearly 11/2 hours of oral arguments. "The crux of this is: Should this case end with the 2nd DCA or be allowed to perpetuate? We've requested that it not (perpetuate)."
Joe Magri, representing the Schindlers, said the lawsuit filed in April was intended as a separate action, not to continually drag out the process.
The Schindlers say they learned of new evidence and tried to present it to Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George Greer.
But, according to rules of procedure, the Schindlers were too late, Greer ruled. (Magri argued that the clock didn't start ticking until the appellate process was exhausted.)
So a separate lawsuit was filed and heard by Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Frank Quesada, who ordered the feeding resumed.
"This has got to be any trial judge's worst nightmare," said Appellate Judge Chris W. Altenbernd. The panel of judges picked at some of the technicalities of the recent lawsuit, noting that there was no attorney's signature on the complaint and a question on whether the affidavits were sworn.
While the Schindlers have fought to keep their daughter alive, Michael Schiavo has insisted that his wife wouldn't want to be kept alive by a feeding tube.
"The bottom line here is what Terri wanted," said Schiavo, who said he has nothing ever to say to his in-laws. "They lied to a judge. I didn't lie to a judge."
Schiavo said he still can't believe that the Schindlers got an injunction after higher courts upheld the decision to remove the feeding tube.
The Schindlers filed a lawsuit after a woman said that Michael Schiavo told her that he didn't know what his wife would have wanted. The Schindlers say Schiavo didn't know specifically whether his wife would have wanted to be fed through a tube to stay alive, although the woman said they never talked about specifics.
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