News of the Day ... in Perspective3/25/2005
Schiavo case highlights abuse potential in guardianship
In denying the motion of Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case, Judge George Greer stated that death would render the allegations of decade-long abuse moot.
“It appears that Greer has a vested interest in the death of Terri Schindler-Schiavo,” write June Maxim and Ginger Berlin (“Schiavogate—the Big Cover-up,” The Empire Journal, Mar 17, 2005: www.theempirejournal.com/0313055_schiavogate_the_big_cove.htm.)
In November 2002, Robert Schindler, Terri’s father, petitioned for the removal of Michael Schiavo as Terri’s guardian on grounds including fraud in obtaining appointment; abandonment of the marriage; failure to provide his ward with her rights to independent legal counsel and rehabilitation services; mismanagement of his ward’s property; and failure to file required guardianship reports with the Court.
Judge Greer has refused to investigate allegations of abuse, to hold a hearing on the petition to remove Schiavo as guardian, or to comply with the Florida statute that requires him to order the filing of the proper reports.
Insurance and malpractice settlements provided a total of $2.25 million, including $600,000 to Schiavo himself for loss of consortium.
According to Schindler’s petition, Schiavo spent $500,000 of guardianship funds on attorney’s fees, and nothing on therapy to diminish contractures, improve swallowing, or provide other rehabilitative care. Instead, he isolated her on “death row” of the hospice, in violation of Medicaid law. Her then-attending physician had certified that she was not terminal.
According to the Empire Journal’s investigative reporters, “the existing guardianship system in Florida and particularly in Pinellas County presents the opportunity for unscrupulous guardians to loot the assets of their wards and enrich themselves with the complete blessing of the court.”
Auditors claim to have been stonewalled in their attempts to oversee guardianship as required by law.
Judge Greer raised a massive $144,000 for his 2004 reelection campaign, said to be the largest amount ever raised in a judicial election. More than half came from attorneys who stand to profit from guardianships to which they are appointed by probate judges such as Greer.
Petition to Remove Guardian and Appoint Successor Guardian and other court documents: www.terrisfight.org.