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Comatose woman’s father wants judge removed from case

DAVID SOMMER, TAMPA TRIBUNE

CLEARWATER (April 13, 2001) Court activity intensifies as the deadline approaches for the removal of Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube.

Terri Schiavo’s father is asking for the removal of the original judge who ruled his daughter should be allowed to die.

Robert Schindler said Thursday he also wants his son-in-law removed as Terri Schiavo’s guardian because Michael Schiavo stands to inherit what remains of a $750,000 medical malpractice award when his wife dies.

“I don’t care what legal terms you hang on it, that’s a conflict of interest,” said attorney Pat Anderson, who has joined the legal team backing Schindler and his wife, Mary.

On Wednesday, an appeals court cleared the way for Michael Schiavo to remove a feeding tube that has kept his wife alive for 11 years.

In a last-ditch effort to save their daughter’s life, the Schindlers on Thursday also asked the state Supreme Court to stop Michael Schiavo from removing the feeding tube while the high court considers whether to review the right -to- die case.

The deadline to prevent the feeding tube’s removal is 1 p.m. April 20. The 2nd District Court of Appeal has set that hour as the time Pasco-Pinellas Circuit Judge George Greer’s February 2000 order allowing Terri Schiavo to die will take effect.

Greer made that decision after a nonjury trial at which Michael Schiavo and his relatives testified that, before a 1990 heart attack left her in the coma-like state, Terri Schiavo had expressed a wish not to be kept alive if there was no reasonable hope of recovery.

Greer and the appeals court both ruled medical evidence showed the woman’s brain had been destroyed.

The Schindlers contend their daughter reacts to them with moans and smiles during bedside visits. They say they hope she will one day wake up, as have some coma patients after years and even decades of illness.

Bob Schindler said he wants Greer off the case so another judge can decide whether Michael Schiavo should continue to control his wife’s fate.

In a motion asking Greer to step down, Schindler said one of his other children, who would not be in line to inherit Terri Schiavo’s estate, should be made guardian.

George Felos, attorney for Michael Schiavo, said Schindler’s dislike of Greer’s rulings is not a valid reason to ask the judge to step down.

“Legally, this is tough,” Anderson said. “We know we are on the edge.”

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