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Investigation of Schiavo's 1990 Injury:
In a letter to County State Attorney Bernie McCabe, Florida Governor Jeb Bush has asked state prosecutors to look into the circumstances of Terri Schiavo's collapse in 1990. McCabe has agreed to open an investigation. I'm no expert in the statute of limitations provisions of Florida criminal law, but I gather the major crime that could still be prosecuted that far back would be homicide or attempted homicide.

  What's the case that Schiavo's 1990 collapse might have involved a homicide or attempted homicide? According to press reports, the key is a possible delay between when Michael Schiavo found Terri collapsed and when he called the paramedics:
  In a 2003 interview on "Larry King Live," Michael Schiavo said he heard his wife fall around 4:30 a.m., the same time he told the medical examiner's office. Later, during the 2000 trial on his wife's end-of-life wishes, he said he heard a "thud" and rushed to find his wife lying in the hallway at about 5 a.m.
  Yet according to the autopsy report, paramedics weren't summoned until 5:40 a.m.
  "In light of this new information, I urge you to take a fresh look at this case without any preconceptions as to the outcome," Bush wrote to McCabe. "Mrs. Schiavo's family deserves to know anything that can be done to determine the cause and circumstances of her collapse 15 years ago has been done."
  Although Gov. Bush's letter apparently isn't clear on this, I gather his theory is that perhaps Michael Schiavo attempted to kill Terri Schiavo back in 1990 by intentionally failing to call the police for 40-70 minutes after she collapsed. I'm not sure that's the theory, actually, but that's my best guess.

  I recognize that the Schiavo case is a terribly sad and emotional topic. But assuming I am right about Gov. Bush's theory, I think it's worth noting how implausible that theory is from the standpoint of trying to make out a criminal case. As I understand it, the theory would require that Michael Schiavo: a) wanted Terri Schiavo to die, and intentionally decided to wait 40-70 minutes before calling the paramedics; b) didn't wait until the morning to call to make sure she was dead, but instead waited only 40-70 minutes and then called at the unusual hour of 5:40 am; and c) later decided to go on Larry King Live where he announced the key piece of evidence against himself by giving the time of the collapse as 4:30am instead of 70 minutes later. How likely is that?

  Have I misunderstood Bush's letter, or the evidence? Or am I wrong in thinking the cases is being investigated as a possible attempted murder? Or am I wrong that this theory seems quite implausible? I have enabled comments. As always, civil and respectful comments only.
DNL (mail):
I think you are assuming too much. The Schiavo case is politically powerful for Jeb, in it is a win-win situation. Very few people on the right-to-die side see it as a litmus issue, while a large number of those on the "Save Terri" side are. Jeb is keeping the story in the news cycle.

He is up for reelection in 2006, and Democratic challengers will start to show their faces around now. The primary means they will run toward the left, which will mean that they will attack Jeb on the issue of this investigation. It'll get nice sound bites for the Re-Elect Jeb '06 campaign.
6.19.2005 12:05pm
Todd Kincannon (mail):
Even if Michael Schiavo did what Governor Bush seems to think he did, it probably isn't a criminal act unless Mr. Schiavo had some hand in causing the underlying health problem to Terri Schiavo. Florida does not, to my knowledge, have a criminal "Good Samaritan" statute.

I'm certainly no expert on Florida law, but then neither is the Florida Supreme Court. :-)

Now if Michael Schiavo lied when he testified that Terri Schiavo didn't want to "live this way," knowing that a court would then order her feeding tube removed, he did commit murder. But that's also almost certainly unprovable, even though that may very well have happened.
6.19.2005 12:10pm
Bill Harshaw (mail) (www):
My impression is that Jeb is either term-limited or has decided not to run. Rather than fancy legal or political theories, how about one that says a convert to Catholicism who has invested much time and effort in what he sees as a moral cause has just developed tunnel vision, demonized his adversaries, and lost all good sense? It wouldn't be the first time that's happened to a person.
6.19.2005 12:21pm
Syd (mail):
Isn't it likely that Michael Schiavo was simply too preoccupied to look at a clock?
6.19.2005 12:48pm
Stephen Aslett (mail):
Todd,

I'm certain that Florida recognizes the common-law duty based on a special relationsip (a quick google search reveals this) and I'd bet money that (like many states) they extend it to the criminal context. If it is true that Mr. Schiavo intentionally waited to call paramedics in order to kill his wife--even if he was in no way responsible for her initial collapse--then he may be guilty of murder. Of course, if he were merely reckless or negligent, then he would only possibly be guilty of manslaughter or negligent homicide. (I assume that Florida, like every state I'm aware of, has no statute of limitations for murder.)

There's also a serious causation issue here. Terri Schiavo didn't die until 15 years after Mr. Schiavo's alleged delay in calling paramedics. At common law, the year-and-a-day rule would have barred this prosecution entirely. To the best of my knowledge, Florida, like most (if not all) states, has abolished this rule. See Jones v. Dugger, 518 So.2d 295, 298 (Fla. Ct. App. 1987). Nonetheless, you'd still need to prove that the aggravation in Terri Schiavo's injuries from Mr. Schiavo's delay in calling paramedics ultimately was the but-for cause of her death, rather than whatever caused the collapse itself. That seems tough, if not impossible, to prove.

Still, I would imagine that--god fobid--if Mr. Schiavo ever was prosecuted, the state would claim that through the civil proceedings to remove Terri Schiavo's feeding tube, he intended and acted to kill his wife using the state as a "innocent agent." This would require proving both that Mr. Schiavo had the intent to do so and that Terri Schiavo would not have wanted to die under those cirumstances. A tough case to say the least, especially since Mr. Schiavo spent alot of money caring for and trying to rehabilitate his wife for years before starting the suit to end Terri Schiavo's wife. I guess the state would have to either argue that Mr. Schiavo is a really wily and patient murderer or truly did have a change of heart for a while before resolving to finish the job.

Given this set of facts, then, it seems the better case is to argue the mens rea, actus reus, and causation all starting with the alleged delay in calling paramedics. Personally, though, if I were the DA, I wouldn't touch this case.

Think about it. It would get tons of media attention, much of it negative. A conviction would be damn near impossible to get. Mr. Schiavo would probably have an excellent defense team funded by sympathetic donors, making conviction even harder. And even with a guilty verdict, the case would polarize the community and make news now and then through the inevitable appeals. Wanted: Prosecutor willing to be villified and receive death threats for the next 10 years. Personal safety aside, thanks, but no thanks.

It's sad that Terri Schiavo has used as a symbol in a political debate. It'll be sadder still if her husband becomes the same.
6.19.2005 1:46pm
Stephen Aslett (mail):
Yikes. I resolve from now on to read my posts at least once for typos before posting.

One further point. It's quite possible that the supposed delay in calling the paramedics never occured. It could be a scrivener's error (a quick comparison of the relevant documents would easily confirm or deny this). It could also be that Mr. Schiavo misremembered the time he actually discovered his wife when he spoke on Larry King 13 years later. Indeed, he could have even misremembered the time when he testified at the civil proceedings in 2000, 10 years after his wife's collapse.
6.19.2005 2:04pm
Todd Kincannon (mail):
Stephen,

Florida law does not seem to impose a duty on a husband to seek medical care for his wife. See Neveils v. State, 145 So.2d 883 (Fla.App. 1962) (holding that the failure or refusal of a husband to procure medical treatment for his ailing wife is not manslaughter); see also Herman v. State, 472 So.2d 770 (Fla.App. 5 Dist. 1985)(stating "the appellant could not be found guilty of manslaughter ... if he simply failed to summon proper medical assistance for the victim").

Florida, by statute, now imposes a duty on parents to seek medical treatment for children. See Eversley v. State, 748 So.2d 963 (Fla. 1999). I have located no similar statute or decision imposing such a duty on spouses. But since I spent about 10 minutes on this, I may have missed something.
6.19.2005 5:42pm
Buck Turgidson (mail):
I agree with Stephen Aslett's last comment. It is easily possible that a distraught husband didn't actually look at the time when he called 911 and simply estimated it to be near 5 am or earlier. Considering the circumstances, checking the time for alibi was likely not on his mind. My question is, what's Jeb's alibi?
6.19.2005 7:38pm
Stephen Aslett (mail):
Todd,

Shockingly, I can't seem to find anything more on Westlaw then you have. Looks like I would have bet money and lost.

I know for a fact that other states impose this duty and an omission thereof can constitute an actus reus for murder, manslaughter, and negligent homicide. Unfortunately, it appears that isn't the case in Florida.
6.20.2005 2:58am
Bill B (mail):
Actually I think the theory is that Michael DID something to her to make her sick and the delay was his attempt to let her die. The fact that she didn't was a mistake on his part. In this theory the delay is evidence of malice not the actual inciting act. Needless to say all unprovable unless Michael starts beating his breast and shouting mea culpa, mea culpa but good for a political point i.e. "Yeah, she may have been in a PVS but HE DID IT and we shouldn't have let him finish the job."
6.20.2005 9:44am
Kevin:
This is all about politics. It has nothing to do with Terry Schiavo, the law, or anything else like that. This "investigation," the same as the rest of this case, has everything to do with appeasing a political base.
6.20.2005 10:14am
Shawn:
Tampa Bay resident here. Florida has term limits. Jeb cannot hold the seat of govenor again. However, he is still expected to deliver that seat to another social conservative at the end of his term. There is serious talk of him running for president as well.

The word on the street here in Tampa Bay is that this is purely a political move. Every legal angle of this case will be exploited until they run out of creative ideas or it no longer serves any purpose.
6.20.2005 10:14am
vicstich (mail):
This is not a "new" issue, whatever Jeb says. We've been over it a million times. Michael never tried to nail down exact times, and says he never looked at a clock. He says woke up in the early morning to a noise, came down, found Terri, saw she was limp/dead, called the paramedics. In later retellings, he put a vague early morning time on events, giving different times in different retellings. I can certainly imagine myself doing the same thing and offhandedly saying "like 4 in the morning" or whatever about when I woke up.

Add that to the fact that if he had NOT called the paramedics almost right away, she would have been not only dead but cooling on her way to rigor, the whole thing is an absurd way for Jeb to save face.
6.20.2005 1:19pm
vicstich (mail):
Oh, and here's a more credible website on the case than almost anything Felix posted above.

http://abstractappeal.com/schiavo/infopage.html
6.20.2005 1:20pm
vicstich (mail):
Finally, it should be noted that the medical examiner didn't JUST conclude that there was no evidence of the trauma that Hentoff prattles on about. It found "evidence that was affirmatively inconsistent with trauma." i.e. the supposed fractures and healed wounds and so forth were not there, when they should have been if there was any of the claimed trauma.
6.20.2005 1:24pm
Felix (mail):
Feel free to either take vicstich's almsot "credible" word for it, or to look at the facts and judge for yourself
6.20.2005 1:44pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I find the the defaming of Michael Schiavo's character to be the single worst thing about this case. Here's a person who suffered an incomprehensible tragedy, tried for years to obtain treatment for his wife before reluctantly moving on with his life, and has by all accounts been an exemplary partner and father to his new family. He never asked for this publicity, tried to stay out of the spotlight as much as possible, and tenaciously defended his right to attempt to honor his late wife's expressed wishes despite the fact that the Governor and Legislature of Florida, the President of the United States, the United States Congress, and the entire religious conservative movement was against him.

(Contrast Michael Schiavo's attempts to stay out of the spotlight with his opponents, who went on every television and radio show that would have them and who convened a media circus at a hospice where grieving people are trying to provide their relatives with dignity in the final moments of their lives.)

It may be good politics to smear this man (though reading the polls, I actually doubt it). It may be that some of these people are rabidly pro-life and feel that any means was justified to save Terri's life (though that does not explain why they continue to attack Michael now that Terri is gone). But I would suggest that recklessly trashing this man's character in this situation-- without any facts that rise above the level of rank speculation and innuendo-- is absolutely sickening.
6.20.2005 1:59pm
Felix (mail):
Dilan, hopefully you'll get a chance to review some of the facts, and then you'll see why your characterization of the facts is utterly false and why people who opposed the murder of Terri continue their fight even after her passing
6.20.2005 2:35pm
cathyf:
To play armchair psychologist, I think that this is about a profound defensive denial on the subject of eating disorders. Just to take an example: if you read the conservative blogsphere and reader comments on Michael Moore you can conclude that, to a huge segment of America, treasonous propaganda in the service of the enemies of civilization is but a mere trifle compared to the (*gasp*) horrific crime of being fat.

So there you are, one of the hundreds of millions ever-ready with a smartass remark about fat people. Terri Schaivo (when she was Terri Schindler) was just the sort of fat person you are so contemptuous of. She spent years sticking her finger down her throat to escape from your contempt. Finally one day, as a result of years of bulemia, her potassium levels dropped low enough that her heart rhythm was not regular enough to supply adequate oxygen to her brain, and all of her higher functioning brain cells were killed off.

So I see all of these people with hysterical fantasies about Michael Schaivo strangling Terri as having a quite simple and powerful motivation. They are attempting to deny the fact that they, or all of the little smartasses just like them, are the ones who killed Terri Schaivo's mind. That the reason that Terri Schaivo spent 15 years with a dead mind in a live body is that when Terri had a live mind in a fat body she wasn't good enough for them.

So yeah, they blame Michael. It gets them off the hook...
6.20.2005 2:36pm
Felix (mail):
cathyf, your post is a perfect example of how the anti-life forces will stoop to any lie to make their "case" -- the autoposy report provided little new concrete information, but it did show that there is no evidence whatsoever of bulemia nor any evidence that Terri sustanied a heart attack

Schiavo Autopsy Based on Medical Records From Husband's Attorney
6.20.2005 2:41pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Felix, I've reviewed the facts. But more importantly, the courts of the State of Florida (and including pro-life, conservative judges) reviewed the facts, over and over again. They found that Terri had expressed to her husband her wish to have life support terminated in this situation. And they found no evidence of foul play.

Further, Terri's guardian ad litem, appointed at the insistence of Governor Bush, found that there was no credible evidence that Michael abused Terri.

What you seem to believe is that there was a conspiracy and a cover-up that involved numerous governmental officials, including people who were definitely not (as you put it) "anti-life". You cannot simply maintain that this good and decent man, Michael Schiavo, was, as you put it, a "murderer", without also believing that all these people who found the facts to the contrary were covering up the facts.

These sorts of cover-ups simply do not happen-- and they especially do not happen when the alleged principals are people whose ideological preferences would be served by NOT covering up.

The fact is, you are falsely charging a good man who obviously loved his wife, and did as much as any man could be expected to do to save her, with many serious crimes, based on theories and constructs that were found to be implausible by people who fall on your side of the political spectrum. And these factfinders, unlike you, relied on primary sources of evidence and a detailed investigation, rather than rantings on ideological websites by people who know only a small smattering of the facts and who have never spoken to Mr. Schiavo.

The fact that you passionately believe that the life of a woman in a persistent vegetative state with no possibility of recovery (as conclusively found by the County Coroner after a weeks-long investigation and a comprehensive examination of her remains) should have been saved does not excuse the reprehensible libel of this man who loved his wife so much and who never asked to be a public figure.
6.20.2005 3:09pm
Felix (mail):
Dilan,

Unlike you, I do not think that court deciisons or decisions by other governmental bodies are more important than facts, especially when the quesion at hand is about the facts themesleves, not what did the court decide, etc.

The fact that you are willing to engage in various logical falacies, such creating straw man arguments, attributing them to me, and then arguing against them (as you did very well in the last paragraph) or calling people you support good and decent and evidence that you don't like as not credible may win points with the anti-life forces, it will not win in the face of clear and comprehensive evidence to the contrary.
6.20.2005 3:19pm
vicstich (mail):
"I do not think that court deciisons or decisions by other governmental bodies are more important than facts, especially when the quesion at hand is about the facts themesleves, not what did the court decide, etc. "

If you want to argue facts, then why post a bunch of internet sites to unsourced and highly speculative claims that are contradicted by the facts, and stand in opposition to countless court rulings, evidentiary documents, and so forth. Just to take the first site off the list: the Hentoff article claims that Terri was abused so badly that there was bone damage. The autopsy reveals none of this history: no healed fractures, nothing consistent with the idea that she was abused. What you are left with is nasty names and allegations of conspiracies that would demand the participation of even as unlikely a figure as Jeb Bush himself.

The cites you list are biased beyond belief, making positive arguments out of lack of evidence. For instance "He did not rule out that the injuries could have been caused by smothering." Well, he didn't rule out that the injuries could have been caused by Darth Vader force-squeezing shut her blood vessels either. Unfortunately, that's not how an autopsy works. Either you find evidence of something (like strangulation: evidence of which was not found) or you don't. Sometimes you can find evidence contrary to some positive claim that would demand particular findings (like severe abuse that broke bones: which was not found). But smothering being a contributive factor to a 15-year-old injury doesn't generally leave such positive signs (if they were a recent cause, yes, but not 15 years later).

Since you are such a big fan of screaming "logical fallacy," you should know that calling others "anti-life" is called "poisoning the well."
6.20.2005 3:45pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Felix:

Simply put, unlike Internet sources you cited to, the government officials who investigated this matter had access to primary sources. The pro-life judge who found that Terri had told Michael Schiavo that she wished to have her feeding tube removed in this situation did so after hearing Michael's testimony, under oath, and evaluating his credibility. The coroner examined Terri's actual remains as well as her entire medical history, including x-rays, CAT scans, and various other primary documents. The guardian ad litem, appointed by Governor Bush to protect Terri's interests, interviewed Michael Schiavo and the Schindlers, and the doctors who examined Terri, as well as reviewing the primary documents in her medical history, again including x-rays and CAT scans as well as written reports by her treating physicians.

The point is, the issue isn't whether "court decisions or decisions by other governmental bodies are more important than facts", but whether people who actually have access to the facts, and who had no reason to misrepresent them, should be believed rather than authors on ideological websites who never have spoken to Mr. Schiavo or Terri's treating physicians and who got all their facts second- or thirdhand. That question answers itself.

And the bigger issue is that a good man has been defamed by people who care more about their opposition to removing a vegetative woman's feeding tube than they do about not recklessly impugning a private man's character and dragging him through the mud in public.
6.20.2005 3:46pm
Felix (mail):
vicstich,

I was going to say that you should watch your posts here before they turn into a complete joke, but I guess it's too late

While I do not have time to refute this non-sense point by point, i'lll try

First of all, most of the sites I have posted are the exact opposite of your description of them -- they are full of sourced material, including bone scans, sworn affidavits, financial records, etc. They are all either primary sources or explanations backed up by careful research

Secondly, you obviosuly have not read the articles fully explaining the autopsy -- both the things it rveealed, and the problems with it

If you need more sources, i'd be happy to provide them when I have the time
6.20.2005 4:42pm
Felix (mail):
Dilan,

First of all, my response to vicstich applies equally to you, if not more so

Not only did the sites I pointed have access to, they in fact reproduce a number of the primary sources

Your constant use of conclusory statements, circular reasoning, straw man arguments, etc. (e.g., "had no reason to misrepresent them," "a good man has been defamed") is getting very tiring
6.20.2005 4:47pm
cathyf:
There is ample evidence of Terri Schaivo's eating disorder -- just compare her high school graduation picture with her wedding picture. The testimony of her friends is that she ate normally in public and then disappeared into the bathroom immediately afterwards. The malpractice lawsuit that she won had ample evidence, taken under oath, that she had an eating disorder. Remember doctors win 80% of all malpractice suits. This was one of the 20% that the doctors lost because it was all there in her chart -- she went to a gyne because she wanted to get pregnant, and the doctor ignored that the amenorreah that she suffered from is a prime symptom of an eating disorder.

If Terri had suffered a heart attack from the potassium imbalance, she most likely would have been simply dead when the paramedics arrived. The injury that she had was that the brain cells controlling basic body functions like breathing survived while the brain cells controlling higher functions were killed off. These injuries are more consistent with a period of severe arrythmia which lowered the oxygenation levels of her blood to a level low enough to kill off higher brain cells, but not low enough to kill off heart cells (a heart attack) or to kill off lower-function brain cells.

The autopsy results are completely consistent with severe brain damage caused by heart arythmia caused by severe potassium deficit caused by many years of constant vomitting. That the autopsy showed no heart attack was no big surprise -- if she had suffered a heart attack then in all likelihood she would have died right then and there. Or if she hadn't died immediately she would have had more severe brain damage and needed a ventilator, and pulling the plug would have been fairly non-controversial.

But that's ok, Felix, you can ignore all this and go back to making jokes about fat people with a clear conscience. Michael Schiavo is the bad guy and eating disorders don't exist and there is nothing at all inconsistent in a person who claims to be "pro life" pooh-poohing a terrible mental illness which has death rate of about 40%.
6.20.2005 4:52pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
No Felix, the sources that you cited include SOME primary sources and a lot of speculation and innuendo, whereas the governmental officials who you refuse to believe not only had access to all the tangible evidence but also had access to Michael, Terri (or, in the case of the coroner, Terri's body), and her doctors, and could question them and make credibility determinations that your sources cannot make.

The fact is, you can't simply go around accusing a person of murder and spousal abuse when he has been repeatedly cleared by the people who are charged with the task of evaluating his credibility, who had access to the full record including the ability to interview all the relevant witnesses, and who have no reason to lie. Just because you believe that it is "anti-life" for people in Terri's circumstances to have their feeding tubes removed does not justify defaming the character of a person who never volunteered to be a public figure.
6.20.2005 5:01pm
vicstich (mail):
"First of all, most of the sites I have posted are the exact opposite of your description of them -- they are full of sourced material, including bone scans, sworn affidavits, financial records, etc. They are all either primary sources or explanations backed up by careful research"

They are highly selective and biased presentations of this evidence, however, and rife with speculation and unsupported claims and claims contradicted by the facts, just as I noted.

"Secondly, you obviosuly have not read the articles fully explaining the autopsy -- both the things it rveealed, and the problems with it "

I have, and the supposed problems are being grossly misrepresented.
6.20.2005 5:22pm
Felix (mail):
cathyf,

Unlike you, I'll take medical evidenc eover graduation photos.

Dilan,

Apparently you haven't read my last response -- it applies now as well as before, given that you're saying the same old tired refrain over and over

vicstich,

I guess when you have yourslef as your own back-up, who needs facts
6.20.2005 5:34pm
Anthony Leonson (mail):
Felix-

You'll take medical evidence?

It's interesting how you're manipulating that evidence to supposedly 'prove' that she didn't have bulemia. So as not to put words in your mouth, I'll quote you-

" the autoposy report provided little new concrete information, but it did show that there is no evidence whatsoever of bulemia nor any evidence that Terri sustanied a heart attack "

Now while it doesn't show that she did have Bulemia, it also doesn't prove that she didn't. It only shows that there is more than one possible reason for the potassium imbalance.

Thus, it's still just as likely that she did have Bulemia.

The one thing that the autopsy did show was that Terri had not suffered ANY abuse or trauma.

So without abuse, trauma, suffication or poisoning, what is your theory for how Michael Shiavo managed to cause his wife to collapse and suffer permanent brain damage?
6.20.2005 6:00pm
Felix (mail):
Anthony,

It most certainly is not "still just as likely that she did have Bulemia." The bulemia cause story is one of the big lies in this case, and even this poorly done biased autopsy could not in any way help tfurther this lie.

As for abuse, etc., there is still good evidence 9eyewitness testimony, bone scans, etc.) that support that theory, and the autopsy's treatment of this issue is an excellent example of its many shortcomings, as pointed out by various medical experts and other evidence.
6.20.2005 6:16pm
ReaderX:
The theory would be that Michael Schiavo intended to get his wife into a comatose state, holding up care long enough to do so but not long enough to kill her, then intended to invoke the courts to help him finish the job. While each act is individually legal, as has been pointed out, if he intended both pieces as part of a single plan, they might be susceptible to being fit together.

Of course, the theory strikes me as being a rather difficult one to prove. Is there any evidence he caused the potassium imbalance?
6.20.2005 6:20pm
Felix (mail):
ReaderX,

Please see my original post
6.20.2005 6:24pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Felix, I read your posts, I assure you. I don't think you understand my point.

This is not the Kennedy assasination, where people can hypothesize vast conspiracy theories among governmental figures without really harming anyone. We are talking about a private individual whose family tragedy was made a public spectacle.

If you want to speculate on grand conspiracy theories regarding George W. Bush or John Kerry or Bill Clinton or Dan Rather or Paris Hilton or OJ Simpson or Michael Jackson, have at it. They are public figures who sought the spotlight and who can certainly expect to be the subject of a certain amount of innuendo as a result of it.

But Michael Schiavo never volunteered for public scrutiny. He was thrust into the spotlight by religious conservatives who had an agenda and decided to make his wife's case their cause celebre.

With an ordinary, private individual, you have a much higher burden of proof before you start making accusations of serious wrongdoing. You can't simply start pointing to alleged inconsistencies in 15 year old reports and say, "you see, this guy's a wife-beater and a murderer"! You can't selectively quote from the records and ignore the official conclusions of duly-appointed decisionmakers like you would when analyzing the 9/11 report. A private individual's character is at issue! And you certainly shouldn't attack a private individual's character just because you have a difference of opinion over the public policy issue of the removal of life-sustaining treatment from vegetative patients.

THAT's where your side goes wrong. Michael Schiavo's character is NOT fair game. It is NOT a political issue. He did NOTHING to volunteer himself for this treatment. Debate the political issue all you wish, but leave this poor man out of it. That's the decent thing to do.
6.20.2005 6:44pm
Felix (mail):
Dilan,

Good deal -- all one has to be is a "private individual," and then no one has a right to critize their criminal activities
6.20.2005 6:53pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
No. When we are speaking of a private individual, would-be Sherlock Holmeses on the internet have a much higher burden before dragging that person's name through the mud in public.

Alleged gaps in old documents may be sufficient to air the question of whether the Downing Street Memos are fake. They aren't sufficient to publically impugn the character of someone who never sought the spotlight. A decent person would never do that without conclusive or near-conclusive proof. And given the fact that this matter has been repeatedly investigated, you don't have that and neither do any of the other people slinging mud at this individual.
6.20.2005 7:07pm
Felix (mail):
Dilan,

Well obviosuly he didn't seek spotlight -- most wrongdoers tend not to
6.20.2005 7:13pm
deany:
Felix, great websites. So objective. I've got some great sites for you to look at for the truth on the bilderberg society, and how they are using mind control through flu shots. Just like you said, objective facts. Forget what all those so-called "experts" conclude.

As to this issue, funnily, the parents were constantly saying "Wait for the autopsy"

now, the autopsy completely refutes their lies and now their minions call it a "poorly done biased autopsy"

it appears that to these fools the lack of evidence of a conspiracy, after years of scrutiny, proves not the lack thereof, but that the conspiracy was diabolically clever

keep going conservatives, you've already lost one (me), and perhaps others, over this crap--prove that it's possible to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory
6.20.2005 7:21pm
Felix (mail):
deany,

I'm glad you decided to really argue, as opposed to talk about the "bilderberg society"
6.20.2005 7:34pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Felix, how sad that you think that you can just label a private person a "wrongdoer" and use that excuse to subject this person to the slippery standards of evidence that prevail in our political debates.

I just hope nobody ever does to you what you and your ideological cohorts have done to Mr. Schiavo.
6.20.2005 8:57pm
Felix (mail):
Dilan,

I don't plan on doing what Michael did, so no need to for me to worry about being exposed for doing that
6.20.2005 9:58pm
Mark Kleiman (mail) (www):
Orin:

Of course you're right that Jeb's move is legally pointless. But it wasn't politically pointless: it helped change the subject from an autopsy report that utterly discredits Jeb's position, and that of the "feed-Terri" forces.
6.21.2005 5:03am
Challenge:
Dilan wrote: "Here's a person who suffered an incomprehensible tragedy, tried for years to obtain treatment (before settlement) for his wife before reluctantly moving on with his life (after settlement), and has by all accounts been an exemplary partner and father to his new family (relevant how?)."
6.21.2005 2:22pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Challenge:

The settlement doesn't prove anything. He spent it all on legal fees fighting the Schindlers, the Religious Right, the Governor, the Legislature, the President, and the Congress. He didn't make one penny off this.

And his conduct with his new partner and family is VERY relevant. If he physically abused Terri, what is the explanation for the lack of any evidence of physical abuse of any of his other partners, including his current partner? Generally, domestic abusers are recidivists.

This point isn't conclusive on anything, but it does show how the anti-Michael folks cherry-pick their facts. There are plenty of facts in this thing that are completely inconsistent with the baseless and libelous attacks on Mr. Schiavo, and they are ignored. Only the facts from which innunedos and insinuations may be drawn are even considered.

And getting back to my original point, cherry-picking the facts favorable to one's position goes on all the time in political debates involving public figures and public issues. It is completely unacceptable when it is done in the service of accusing a person who never volunteered for public scrutiny of the most gruesome of acts.

The folks on your side of this debate have a position about removing feeding tubes, which is defensible. Defaming a man's character is not. And the fact that plenty of people don't know the difference, or don't care about it, or think that destroying this man is a legitimate means to the end, says nothing about Mr. Schiavo but plenty about the people who are making these arguments. The fact that one's political position cannot carry on the merits is not a license to lie.
6.21.2005 5:07pm
Challenge:
What do you mean "it doesn't prove anything."

It at least proves your sorry attempt at lionizing him falls flat. This "he spent years seeking medical care" nonsense. When he finally had the money to give her treatment, he felt like he should take the money and run. That's just a fact. Even though, under oath, he attested to her condition of awareness and what not, and how he would always care for her. Good stuff for a jury considering a multi-million dollar verdict, but apparently untrue (according to Michael NOW). He did keep the fight going after most of the money was exhausted (which was on legal fees, not medical care, which it was intended for), but wouldn't one expect that, as to keep up appearences?

Nobody is lying, if you can't concede Michael's behavior is at a minimum highly suspicious, then you're lying to yourself. I'm not going to call him a murderer or anything like that, but the record does not speak well for his character. When somebody doesn't even MENTION "Terri's wishes" until after they receive a multi-million dollar verdict, then those "wishes" are suspect. Sorry.

Then there's the little things. He didn't allow for very many tests which could confirm her condition. That's suspicious. Also, in one last despicable act, he goes against the family's wishes and has her cremated, denying her a Catholic burial. This, I am sure, was no doubt spurred by a sudden and inexplicable recollection of her "wishes" as well.
6.21.2005 11:02pm
vicstich (mail):
Interestingly enough, it was the Schindlers who originally encouraged Michael to date and move on with his life. He even brought his new partner to meet with the Schindlers. She even apparently spent far more time with Terri than Terri's own brother... before the cameras showed up. It was only after the fact that they started to portray his new partner as some sort of betrayal of his marriage to Terri.
6.21.2005 11:25pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Challenge, he had a diagnosis that she was in a persistent vegetative state, and he had tried for years to get her to respond to treatment and she didn't. So it isn't suspicious at all that he would stop.

This is what I mean by cherry picking the facts. Sure, if the only two facts you look at are that he stopped trying to get treatment and he got the malpractice settlement, you might infer foul play. But THOSE AREN'T THE ONLY TWO FACTS. And once you add in the fact that she had been diagnosed with PVS (which you either recover from within a year or never recover from at all) and she had not responded at all despite repeated efforts of treatment, Mr. Schiavo's behavior isn't "suspicious" at all. It's exactly what any loving spouse would do-- try hard to obtain any reasonable treatment that might spur a recovery, but eventually, give up and accede to her wishes that she not be kept in this state.

That same point answers all the BS about "tests" he didn't get. She was in a persistent vegetative state. All the tests in the world weren't going to change that. He tried every reasonable avenue (and some unreasonable), but she didn't improve. So she was never going to. No MRI was going to change that.

Finally, how do you know that Terri wanted a "Catholic burial"? Many Catholics nowadays opt for cremation-- a good recent example was John Kennedy, Jr., who was cremated and had his ashes scattered at sea. Current Church doctrine permits cremation, and many Catholics opt for it. There is certainly nothing improper, in this day and age, about choosing cremation when a Catholic dies.

Again, all of this is motivated by a feeling that since he wanted to remove her feeding tube, Michael HAD to be a bad person. Or at least that he is fair game, because "saving Terri's life" justified any means including defaming this man's character.

This man did all he could, far more than many people would have. Many people would have given up on Terri's treatment long before he did. And many others would have given in when the legal bills started rolling in after the religious right and politicians joined the fight, no matter that she had expressed the desire not to have her life prolonged in this condition. And, what speaks most loudly about this is that in a situation where his opponents, including the Schindler family and their supporters, turned a HOSPICE into a media circus and therefore ruined the lives of many people who were trying to allow their relatives to die with dignity, he avoided the spotlight and turned down most of the media interviews. He quietly tried to do what was best for Terri, and his opponents relished the opportunity to become celebrities and didn't give a hoot about all the lives that they ruined by their creation of a circus atmosphere at a hospice where people seek a quiet exit.

This man is a good man, a better man than I, and shame on people for defaming his character.
6.22.2005 4:42pm
ajpiano (mail) (www):
The most horrible thing about Michael Schiavo is the way he himself performed the autopsy, invoking his magical powers to take over the bodies of the doctors, and then broadcasted a brainwashing signal on national television, convincing millions of slavish liberals to believe the obviously baldfaced lies he was telling. Of course, his perpetration of these and all his other crimes is not out of character, when you consider that he also is personally responsible for every major genocide perpetrated in the last 1000 years.

Just how deep does this conspiracy go?

--adam
6.23.2005 11:06am
Felix (mail):
ajpiano,

please -- all the witty sarcasm (I'm obviously being generous) in the world won't make the facts go away

Dilan,

dude, after your last sentence, I'm afraid of arguing with you anymore

vicstich,

even if that were true, all that shows is that her parents are truly decent people who weren't aware of the full facts at that point in time

Challenge,

nice to see a fellow believer in the truth
6.24.2005 10:42am