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Schiavo trial transcripts now on-line

I want to blog this to bring it even more obviously to the attention of the Google bots. I have just finished an article for the forthcoming issue of The Christendom Review on some legal aspects of the Terri Schiavo case. In the course of doing research for it, I managed (by dint of much and persistent e-mailing) to get hold of the trial transcripts of all the witness testimony in the Schiavo case. As far as I have been able to tell, these transcripts are not available elsewhere on-line.

Because people will be studying and discussing Terri Schiavo's death (murder, I would say) for many years to come, it seems to me extremely important that the witness testimony be available. The judge's job was to decide that there was "clear and convincing evidence" that Terri would have wanted to be dehydrated to death. Judge Greer's opinion is on-line here.

Greer's opinion does not quote the witness testimony he is using. He just alludes to it, sometimes extremely vaguely, and sometimes even erroneously. News stories usually contain only bits and pieces, and their sources are unclear.

On my personal web page I now have

--A PDF scan of the testimony transcript of Diane Meyer
--A PDF scan of the testimony transcript of Scott Schiavo
--A PDF scan of the testimony transcript of Joan Schiavo
--A complete transcript of all the witness testimony, including the testimony of Michael Schiavo and Mrs. Schindler, in a web page html form.

These five were the witnesses who claimed to have had conversations with Terri about end-of-life issues.

I owe the Diane Meyer transcript directly to Pat Anderson, one of the Schindlers' lawyers. I owe the complete transcript to Atty. Joe Bell, who took a PDF that he had from Pat Anderson and made a careful project of translating it into searchable text.

My hope is that now when people search "Schiavo" and "trial transcripts," "Diane Meyer," and other such phrases, they will have more luck than I did in finding these important documents on-line.

Comments (7)

My hope is that, in the end, I won't be the only one to acknowledge a debt of gratitude for your research.

Is it giving too much away to say that your forthcoming article contains a devastating 'indictment' of the legal shenanigans?

Nah, it ain't giving too much away. :-)

Ooops, I accidentally deleted my own comment.

I posted this on my blog also. It shows up at the top of a google search for "schiavo case testimony". If more people blog it with different reasonable combinations of search terms in the titles of the blog posts, that may help the search engines index it.

I find myself surprised that this was not already online in some form. We need to do a better job getting the raw data spewing from Murder, Inc online.


I look forward to your article and the chance to read through some of those transcripts. Here is what is amazing to me about the whole sad Schiavo affair. Back then I didn't consider myself Christian and I wasn't on board with the entire pro-life movement. But when I read about the case, as a parent of two children, my sympathy and common-sense kicked in -- I don't care what Schiavo's husband or even Terri herself said (no doubt at a time when she wasn't taking the prospect of life-changing injury seriously) -- she had two loving parents who wanted to care for their daughter and didn't want her killed. Why that wasn't enough for the courts and for the whole country to rally to their side is beyond my understanding as a parent who loves his children unconditionally and would give my life to preserve theirs.

Jeff, your instincts there were very sound. Dehydrating someone to death over a period of thirteen days is never right. And Terri had _never_ addressed the issue of a feeding tube specifically in anything she had said or was alleged to have said. The testimony about what she was alleged to have said that was taken to favor dehydrating her to death was quite vague and, if she even really said it, could have applied to a ventilator. In one case, the testimony of Scott Schiavo, the claim was that she was responding to the situation of a grandmother who had been on a ventilator and saying that she didn't want to be left "like that."

But looking at the wider issue, I think there are far too many people who do things Terri never did--check a box on a "living will" to refuse tube feeding, for example, and have _no idea_ that this will be taken to mean the following: "If I am not dying, my body is functioning, I could live for years, I have no terminal disease, but I am unable to get enough nourishment by eating by mouth and I am therefore receiving my food and water by way of a tube, please stop giving me any food and water and leave me to dry up and die of thirst over a period of up to two weeks." I mean, how many people would knowingly say that if they really understood? I suppose there area few ideologues who would, and who would just insist that they be given drugs to numb the pain of such a death. But I think by far the majority of people who make vast sweeping statements about "not wanting artificial means" or "not wanting a tube" assume that if they require any "tubes" (about which people are pretty much taught to have a phobia) they are _dying_ and will die within a day or two if these horrible "artificial" means are withdrawn. Sometimes they confuse a feeding tube and a ventilator. They assume that if you have any "tubes" then a "machine" is "pumping your blood," or "taking over your body's functions" and crazy things like that. There's just a lot of ignorance.

I have some friends who have a boy with Down's Syndrome. He eats by mouth, but if that's all he did, he would starve to death. For some reason he just can't get enough that way. He has a port for a PEG tube, and every night they set up a tube feeding while he sleeps. That's how he lives. All day long he runs around and plays and lives his life just like any other kid, but he needs a _tube_ to get enough nutrition. It's no big deal. There are lots of people like him. People just don't understand this.

From a post I made regarding Judge Greer six years ago:

"The Judge deserves every piece of irate mail he gets in this case. From everything I have read he did a miserable job.
1.The woman is clearly not in a persistant vegitative state. The testimony of her caregivers reveal this and the videos taken of her clearly show that she is awake and aware of her surroundings.
2.She made no written declaration such as a living will or a power of attorney for health care as to whether she would wish to have food withheld in this situation.
3.The court's reliance on self-serving statements by the husband and his sister as to her intentions while ignoring the contra statements of all of her blood relatives is absurd.
4.The husband only has the legal ability to ask that care be withheld because he is the husband. The court has failed to take note that the husband clearly has a conflict of interest. Once his wife dies he inherits the remaining funds from her malpractice suit that he brought on her behalf. The husband is also shacked up with a woman described as his "fiancee" (How can a married man possibly have a fiancee?) by whom he has had one child and who is currently expecting another. Wife dies and hubby is able to remarry. This is the first time I can recall a court aiding a man to kill his wife so he can marry his mistress.

I could go on and on. His Honor is either incompetent or he had his judicial thumb firmly planted on the scales of justice for the husband throughout these proceedings. Either way he deserves to be pilloried for his actions from now until Doomsday when I believe the ultimate Judge may well have a word or two of criticism for him."

The fix was in on this case from the beginning. Once Judge Greer presided over the case, Terri Schiavo was doomed.

Yes, and what people will deal with over time may change as well. What you consider acceptable when you are young and in perfect health is very different from what you will accept when you are older and ill. I lost my mother last year after a long and very tiring battle with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

When she was young, beautiful and healthy, I can very much imagine her saying something like "I wouldn't want to live if I had to have oxygen 24/7--just let me go."

But that was before children, grandchildren, etc. What she would struggle with and accept was different because she had *us* and we had *her*. It was a challenge for her and for us. She had to bear pain and things that were humiliating to her. We had to caretake, and it was sometimes hard.

But it was worth it for us all. Love carried us through. And the taking made her more humble. And the caring made us more patient and loving.

I told her in her last months that I thought her life and suffering had all purchased us opportunities for redemption that would never have been possible any other way. I was sorry it was purchased at such a high price for her. But when we stand together in heaven one day, I think we will all think that the price was worth it. The weekends I gave up "fun" to take care of my sweet mother will be as nothing in comparison with what we hope to receive.

I'm probably not saying that right. I hope you understand.

I always tell people now, "Don't decide so blithely what you will and will not do. Life will fool you. To see a grandson go to college, you will do things that in your 20s you would rule out in a heartbeat. But you will do them and BE GLAD to do them later."

We are so fearful of suffering--of watching someone we love suffer, of suffering ourselves along side of them. We want to shut our eyes and run away.

But I don't think that those who so wrongly ended Terri Schiavo's life really ended their suffering at all. I would be surprised if it didn't haunt them every single day--from the day they removed the tubes until the day they will have to account for it.

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