Patterico's Pontifications

3/24/2005

L.A. Times Makes Michael Schiavo Into Martyr

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Schiavo — Patterico @ 7:07 am



The L.A. Times runs a story titled (I kid you not) Parents’ Side Has Vilified Husband:

Demonized by his in-laws, antiabortion activists and the religious right, Michael Schiavo has become the target of accusations that he caused her heart attack and collapse with abusive, violent behavior; that he fabricated the story that she wouldn’t want to live this way only after collecting more than $1 million in a malpractice claim; that he has sabotaged her therapy and barred her friends and family from comforting visits; and that he wants her to die so he can marry a woman with whom he has lived for the last few years and fathered two children.

The article relies upon a report from Jay Wolfson, who was appointed as a guardian ad litem in the case. Wolfson concluded that Michael Schiavo “gave his heart and soul to her treatment and care.” Based on this report, the paper concludes that all of the allegations regarding Michael Schiavo’s conflicts of interest in the case are simply manufactured by Schiavo’s opponents:

In these waning days of the conflict over who has the right to make a life-or-death decision for Terri Schiavo, neither medical facts nor judicial rulings have lessened the vitriol from those who have sought to demonize her husband for his contention that she wouldn’t want to live this way.

For some strange reason, the paper never even mentions the report from the first guardian ad litem appointed in the case: Richard L. Pearse Jr. That report is described and quoted from here. Pearse recommended against the removal of the feeding tube, saying that the court should not base such a decision on evidence from Michael Schiavo, who suffered from emotional and financial conflicts of interest. Pearse’s report provides support for much of what the L.A. Times characterizes as the “demonizing” of Michael Schiavo.

The L.A. Times says it is “demonizing” Schiavo to say “that he fabricated the story that she wouldn’t want to live this way only after collecting more than $1 million in a malpractice claim.” I don’t know whether he fabricated the story, but it didn’t come up until after the medical malpractice case, and Pearse makes it clear that Schiavo had a lot to gain.

At the time of Pearse’s report, there was over $700,000 in Terri Schiavo’s trust fund. Pearse wrote:

Mr. Schiavo will realize a substantial and fairly immediate financial gain if his application for withdrawal of life support [tube-supplied food and water] is granted.

. . . .

[H]is credibility is necessarily adversely affected by the obvious financial benefit to him of being the ward’s sole heir at law in the event of her death while still married to him. Her death also permits him to get on with his own life.

The L.A. Times says it is “demonizing” Schiavo to say that he “sabotaged her therapy.” Pearse concluded that Schiavo had begun to deny basic medical treatment to Schiavo in the early 1990s:

After February 1993, Mr. Schiavo’s attitude concerning treatment for the ward [Terri Schiavo] apparently changed. Early in 1994, for example, he refused to consent to treat an infection from which the ward was then suffering and ordered that she not be resuscitated in the event of cardiac arrest. The nursing home where she resided at that time sought to intervene, which ultimately led the ward’s husband to reverse his decision and authorize antibiotic treatment.

The L.A. Times says it is “demonizing” Schiavo to say that he “barred her friends and family from comforting visits.” Pearse concluded that Michael Schiavo had “isolated the ward from her parents.”

The L.A. Times says it is “demonizing” Schiavo to say that “he wants her to die so he can marry a woman with whom he has lived for the last few years and fathered two children.” I don’t know if that is why he wants her to die, but those facts are true. Pearce noted the “two romantic involvements” that Schiavo had engaged in since Terri Schiavo’s collapse. He wrote that Michael Schiavo “wants to get on with his own life.”

(I’ll pass on defending the assertion that Michael Schiavo caused her heart attack. Nat Hentoff wrote a column about it, if you’re interested in the evidence supporting the accusation. But I have never made that argument.)

Based on Michael Schiavo’s emotional and financial conflicts of interest, the first guardian ad litem in this case recommended against removal of the feeding tube. He substantiated many of the basic facts that the paper today characterizes as mere vitriol, vilification, and demonization.

But only one guardian ad litem is quoted in today’s L.A. Times — the one that supports the paper’s editorial position that Schiavo’s feeding tube should be removed.

UPDATE: I have found a link to Pearse’s report itself. It says the civil judgment was paid in early 1993 — exactly when Schiavo’s attitude towards her medical treatment changed. This is strong evidence that he is not being “demonized” when people say that he changed his mind about her wishes when the dough hit his bank account.

35 Responses to “L.A. Times Makes Michael Schiavo Into Martyr”

  1. […] o live – save only her husband, whose conflicts on the issue of her wishes have been discussed at length. There is no parallel here. None. It is s […]

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  2. […] o live – save only her husband, whose conflicts on the issue of her wishes have been discussed at length. There is no parallel here. None. It is s […]

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  3. […] o live – save only her husband, whose conflicts on the issue of her wishes have been discussed at length. There is no parallel here. None. It is s […]

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  4. It is being reported that her final appeal has been turned down by SCOTUS. Is it just wishful thinking that either President Bush or Governor Bush will “rescue” her in the manner of Clinton’s actions re Waco and Elian Gonzales?

    Old Coot (72ce38)

  5. Why were there two guardians ad litem?

    D. Carter (385d49)

  6. “Is it just wishful thinking that either President Bush or Governor Bush will “rescue” her in the manner of Clinton’s actions re Waco and Elian Gonzales?”

    And if they don’t, are they just as complicit in whatever ill motives are associated to judge greer, other judges, etc…

    actus (e137d7)

  7. Idiots on Parade
    Here on the left coast, Frisco strongman Gavin Newsom, who knows more about marriage than the entire California Legislature and 60% of the electorate despite not being able/willing to keep his own together, is coming under fire from his fellow leftists…

    damnum absque injuria (38c04c)

  8. Did the second guardian have any relationship to the judge, michael, any of the case lawyers, the hospice or any euthanasia society.

    Davod (c676db)

  9. Wolfson was appointed by David Demers, Chief Judge, Florida 6th Judicial Circuit, to make a report to the Governor about the case persuant to an act of the legislature.

    Pearse and another GAL were appointed at the trial court level to assist the court. Pearse was fired after a series of improper and unethical actions indicating he was unfit for the job.

    Wolfson is generally regarded as credible, even by pro-lifers like Taranto, who said of his report: “The 38-page report is by and large a persuasive document, showing that the Florida courts did not lightly reach the conclusion that Mrs. Schiavo should die.”

    Patterico, your scurrilous attacks on Mr. Schiavo are uncalled-for and serve to indicate only that you have no case.

    Richard Bennett (57f7ac)

  10. So what were these “improper and unethical actions” that Pearse committed Richard? I find it odd that you would go out of your way to put praise on Wolfson after slamming Pearse and leaving it at one line without a link or clue as to what, other than being a bad man in your eyes, he did. Perhaps you could go out of your way to give us a quote or link for this also?

    Sultanofsham (43d18b)

  11. Pearse was not the first GAL, he was the second. (See timeline here). The first was a fellow named John H. Pecarek, who said Michael acted appropriately. Pearse acknowledged that Terri was PVS, but claimed Michael had a financial conflict with keeping her alive because he wanted the money for himself, although he couldn’t cover up the fact that Michael was very diligent in seeking therapy for Terri for many years.

    Pearse is alleged to have colluded with the Schindlers to get the nurses to contact them directly (against court orders and Michael’s wishes) with information about Terri’s condition. I don’t have a link for that, sorry.

    But the bottom line is that three GALs said Terri was PVS, two affirmed that Micheal was diligent, and one speculated without any evidence about a potential conflict of interest.

    As events have unfolded, we’ve seen that Michael has turned down opportunities to profit by rejecting an offer to essentially sell the guardianship for the million bucks that’s been offered by one of Gloria Allred’s clients. He could have made a million by doing this, but he’s said “no.” It can’t be more clear than that.

    And in any case, the charge that Michael is a bastard doesn’t determine one way or the other what should happen with the feeding tube. This charge is a distraction, and it’s a shame that a member of the bar would stoop to such scurrilous tactics.

    Richard Bennett (57f7ac)

  12. It would have been better all around if Michael Schiavo had had to prove his case to a jury. For instance, there’s an ex-nurse’s affadavit saying that Terri was in tears after Michael’s visits. Obviously, Greer tossed that out.

    If Terri had been accused of murder, on the other hand, all such testimony would have occurred before a jury, and there would have been cross-examination of such witnesses.

    Doubt will hang over Mr. Schiavo’s head his whole life. Greer, too.

    Bostonian (a37519)

  13. As events have unfolded, we’ve seen that Michael has turned down opportunities to profit by rejecting an offer to essentially sell the guardianship for the million bucks that’s been offered by one of Gloria Allred’s clients. He could have made a million by doing this, but he’s said “no.” It can’t be more clear than that.

    I am not impressed. If someone offered you a million dollars, but only on condition that you become one of the most hated people in the nation, would you take it? He would become a national villain and would lose all his supporters.

    Patterico (756436)

  14. Whatm, like he’s some kind of hero now?

    Facing facts, it’s incontrovertable that the hardline pro-lifers have already made him the most hated man in America by piling slander upon slander on him.

    The sliming of Michael Schiavo (all in the name of Christian love, of course) is the most shameful aspect of this case.

    Richard Bennett (57f7ac)

  15. And in any case, the charge that Michael is a bastard doesn’t determine one way or the other what should happen with the feeding tube. This charge is a distraction, and it’s a shame that a member of the bar would stoop to such scurrilous tactics.

    The charge is that he has a conflict of interest, and that has everything to do with whether the feeding tube should remain, because he is the principal witness to her alleged wishes.

    I am losing patience with you, Richard Bennett, because you are combining an apparently willful lack of understanding with an increasingly insulting manner. That is not a combination that adds anything to the discussion.

    I am happy to allow you to remain and make your points. I think the debate is important. But I can do without the gratuitous insults. If it’s too emotional a topic for you to refrain from them, you are free to rant and rave elsewhere.

    Patterico (756436)

  16. It’s disingenuous in the extreme for people to keep insisting that Michael can simultaneously move on with his life AND insist that his wife’s “wishes” (as reported by him) be carried out. How much money has he spent on this? (Never mind that it’s his wife’s malpractice money, earmarked for her therapy.)

    I think he’s a psychopath.

    Bostonian (a37519)

  17. Plus, Richard Bennett, what would Schiavo be “selling” for the million dollars? He is not the one in control; the court is.

    Patterico (756436)

  18. “Plus, Richard Bennett, what would Schiavo be “selling” for the million dollars? ”

    His guardianship?

    actus (e8ffe9)

  19. “Never mind that it’s his wife’s malpractice money, earmarked for her therapy.”

    He also earned some on his own in the claim, for “loss of consortium” damages.

    actus (e8ffe9)

  20. I would never want my spouse to put my parents and family through this hell.

    Those would be my wishes.

    tom van dyke (11fd23)

  21. I think OJ Simpson killed his ex-wife, I think Robert Blake killed his wife, and I think Michael Sciavo is killing his wife. And they are all going to get away with it.
    But Schiavo is the luckiest of the bunch; no legal fees and a big payday.
    It might have been appropriate to let Terri go, but we will never know that for sure.

    Gary (8b9e93)

  22. OK, Patterico, you want to be treated more respectfully by your readers than you’re willing to treat Mike Schiavo, right? Fine, we can play that.

    So here’s the deal, as I learned about argumentation in my philosophy classes: before you’re entitled to make ad hominem attacks, as you’re doing against Mr. Schiavo, you have to demonstrate that there’s something wrong with the decisions he’s made. If you can show that he’s made clearly bad decisions, then you get to ask why and give your answer. That’s sound argumentation.

    To flip it around and go “I don’t like this guy, so everything he’s done is wrong” begs the question. I can attack anybody’s character and then go on to impeach his every action and argument. But this is America and we don’t do things that way.

    The central fact of the case is Terri’s condition.

    All three GAL’s, including both the one you like and the one you don’t like, say she’s in a PVS. That’s also the judgment of most of the neurologists and of Judge Greer, and despite the most thorough review in history, Judge Greer’s findings have been affirmed on both the abuse of discretion and de novo standards all the way to the Supreme Court. While there may be a nurse or two who disagrees, and even some neurologists, and Randall Terry, and random others, the finding that Terri is PVS is certainly reasonable, even if you don’t personally believe it. So you have to accept it.

    Now, given what we know, it’s perfectly reasonable for anybody who loves Terri to pull the tube. When a person is in PVS, that’s what we do most of the time. So a reasonable person would do what he’s doing in this situation, which has been reasonably determined to be what it is.

    So where does the rationale for attacking Mr. Schiavo come from? Are you saying that a person who had better character would be willing to act unreasonably toward Terri, and in fact there is some divine mandate to unreasonable action because of some unique circumstance that escaped the notice of all these doctors and judges and courts? And on the basis of this invisible something you’re entitled to rip this man’s life apart?

    Well I’m here to tell you that you have no such entitlement, and if that pisses you the fuck off then go ahead and ban me.

    And BTW, if Wayne Doss and Dennis Snapp still work in your office, tell them I said hello.

    Richard Bennett (57f7ac)

  23. The central fact of the case is Terri’s condition.

    The central fact of the case is Terri’s wishes.

    I don’t trust Michael Schiavo’s hearsay testimony on this issue, for the reasons I have stated. It is not an ad hominem argument. It is a credibility issue. If he has conflicts of interest, how can his hearsay testimony be “clear and convincing”?

    I am sorry you appear incapable of understanding the argument. It’s not a slight on your intelligence, but I am making one argument and you are hearing another, apparently due to emotion.

    Patterico (756436)

  24. I think it’s both. I think the odds are about 50-50 that “Judge” Greer was right about her intent, and 75-25 that she is PVS. If I were as absolutely cock-sure about either as the kill Terri crowd, I’d be OK with the fact she is being killed by the state. It’s because I can’t be absolutely sure about either, that I am not.

    The one good thing I can possibly see coming out of this is that the next time some ACLUeless liberal argues that we shouldn’t have a death penalty because it’s theoretically possible that Kevin Cooper didn’t really kill anybody, nobody, and I do mean nobody, will listen to them.

    Xrlq (c51d0d)

  25. Terri’s wishes don’t matter if her condition isn’t hopeless, Pat. I don’t wish to live as a vegetable and nobody is snuffing me because I’m not currently a vegetable.

    It’s also the case that the court didn’t make its finding strictly on the testimony of one conflicted source. If it had, I rather doubt that it would have withstood all those appeals. The found him more credible than mama, and that’s all that counts.

    It’s also completely immaterial that the evidence is “hearsay” as you claim. In these circumstances it all is, including mama’s, so that’s just an attempt to push an emotional button.

    And speaking of emotions, mama has a conflict of interest between her desire to hold on to her child and the child’s desires for herself. All mamas have such a conflict, which is one reason why our legal system, in its wisdom, places more stock in the spouses we choose than in the parents we don’t.

    Once again, you don’t have to like the ruling for it to be reasonable, and you don’t have to try and eviscerate Michael Schiavo just because he’s a man; you can leave that sort of sport to Sheila Kuehl and Gloria Allred.

    Richard Bennett (c5751d)

  26. “The one good thing I can possibly see coming out of this is that the next time some ACLUeless liberal argues that we shouldn’t have a death penalty because it’s theoretically possible that Kevin Cooper didn’t really kill anybody, nobody, and I do mean nobody, will listen to them.”

    Is that how they argue? “theoretically possible”? I guess us ACLUelesses are going to have to beef up our arguments then.

    actus (e8ffe9)

  27. Terri’s wishes don’t matter if her condition isn’t hopeless, Pat. I don’t wish to live as a vegetable and nobody is snuffing me because I’m not currently a vegetable.

    I think they should matter.

    It’s also completely immaterial that the evidence is “hearsay” as you claim. In these circumstances it all is, including mama’s, so that’s just an attempt to push an emotional button.

    No, it’s an argument. I agree that we appear to have only hearsay testimony on both sides. My point is, that bothers me when we’re talking about killing someone, and the testimony comes from people with conflicts. You argue that Mrs. Schindler, to whom you pejoratively refer as “mama,” has conflicts as well. I am sure she does. So both sides are presenting hearsay testimony from conflicted people. That sounds like a wash to me.

    And speaking of emotions, mama has a conflict of interest between her desire to hold on to her child and the child’s desires for herself. All mamas have such a conflict, which is one reason why our legal system, in its wisdom, places more stock in the spouses we choose than in the parents we don’t.

    I don’t think that the law provided any presumption in favor of the credibility of the spouse’s testimony in this situation. If anything, the presumption worked against Mr. Schiavo because he is the one who wants to end his wife’s life. Therefore, under Florida law, he bears the burden of proof.

    Once again, you don’t have to like the ruling for it to be reasonable, and you don’t have to try and eviscerate Michael Schiavo just because he’s a man; you can leave that sort of sport to Sheila Kuehl and Gloria Allred.

    Yes, and you don’t have to be continually rude to me just because of your personal problems.

    [See my next comment for the explanation.]

    Patterico (756436)

  28. Did the end of that comment upset you? See, I just threw out a B.S. accusation about you, with no basis in fact whatsoever. Kind of like you just did with me, with the comment about attacking Michael Schiavo because he’s a man.

    It’s annoying to have someone do that. Think before you hit the “Say it!” button.

    Patterico (756436)

  29. All I can say is let’s just wait and see how many TV offers and book deals he gets to beef up his bank account from all of this. I’m sure he won’t pass on that kind of spotlight and the money that goes along with it.

    jlitt (f2dd45)

  30. WSJ has an editorial saying it’s bad law and good politics. Schiavo does indeed have a conflict of interest and roles. You can’t be a husband and be at the same time in a relationship with another woman and have two kids by her.

    The general public sees this and is not happy. Dems have fallen all over themselves to be on the side of Michael Schiavo, whom the public probably doesn’t like. Precisely because of the contradiction. This doesn’t make him a villain or murderer, but does make him disliked as much if not more than Randall Terry, and paints the Dems as “DIE! Already” ala Lamm of Colorado.

    Jim Rockford (628e3c)

  31. What do you expect from the LATrine Stalinist monkeys (see no evil, hear no evil, speak plenty of bullcrap) on this tragic subject. This situation is that of conflict of interest, which the judiciary up to this point in time is completely ignorant.

    Mescalero (b40a74)

  32. I just can’t wait for her to die just to get this rediculous nonsense off my TV and the frontpage of every blog I like to visit. This is just rediculous.

    Bob Dobbs (044386)


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