Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Wolfson Report on Teresa Marie Schiavo

Site of Reference:
(The link to the report is located at the bottom of the page in a PDF file.)

Dr. Jay Wolfson, DrPH, JD an Attorney and Counselor at Law P.A. was designated as the guardian and asked to supply a report to Gov. Jeb Bush. His report states, “It took Michael a long time to consider the prospect of getting on with his life-something he was actively encouraged to do by the Schindlers, long before enmity tore them apart. He was even encouraged by the Schindlers to date, and introduced his in-law family to women he was dating. But this was just prior to the malpractice case ending.”

As soon as Michael Schiavo was encouraged to date by the Schindlers they challenged his guardianship. “As part of the first challenge to Michael’s Guardianship, the court appointed John H. Pecarek as Guardian Ad Litem to determine if there had been any abuse by Michael Schiavo. His report, issued 1 March 1994, found no inappropriate actions and indicated that Michael had been very attentive to Theresa. After two more years of legal contention, the Schindlers action against Michael was dismissed with prejudice. Efforts to remove Michael as Guardian were attempted in subsequent years, without success.” So after encouraging Michael to date so they could discredit him they were upheld in court.
The report states, “The court appointed Richard Pearse, Esq., to serve as Guardian Ad Litem to review the request for withdrawal, a standard procedure.” The next step was to say that there was responses from Theresa. “Mr. Pearse’s investigation concluded that the statements of Mrs. Schindler, Theresa’s mother, indicated that Theresa displayed special responses, mostly to her, but these were not observed or documented.”
It was concluded in court that Michael’s testimony to remove the feeding tube was not valid. “He concludes that Michael Schiavo’s testimony regarding the basis for his decision to withdraw life support-a conversation he had with his wife, Theresa, was not clear and convincing, and that potential conflicts of interest regarding the disposition of residual funds in Theresa’s trust account following her death affected Michael and the Schindlers-but he placed greater emphasis on the impact it might have had on Michael’s decision to discontinue life support. At the time of Mr. Pearse’s report, more than $700,00 remained in the guardianship estate.” So Mr. Pearse took the route of saying that after years of Theresa being feed by a tube his only reason to remove the tube was because he had money left in the guardianship. Never mind the love of a husband, a husband that was encouraged to date by her parents who are now suing him. Did the Schindlers want the money? “Mr. Pearse concludes that Michael’s heresay testimony about Theresa’s intent is “necessarily affected by the obvious financial benefit to him of being the sole heir at law…” and “…by the chronology of this case…”, specifically referencing Michael’s change in position relative to maintaining Theresa following the malpractice award.”
But the real smoking gun here is that Michael Schiavo did not want the money! “In response to Mr. Pearse’s report, Michael Schiavo filed a Suggestion of Bias against Mr. Pearse. This document notes that Mr. Pearse failed to mention in his report that Michael Schiavo had earlier, formally offered to divest himself entirely of his financial interest in the guardianship estate. The criticism continues to note that Mr. Pearse’s concern about abuse of inheritance potential was directly solely at Michael, not at the Schindlers in the event they might become the heirs and also choose to terminate artificial life support. Further, significant chronological deficits and factual errors are noted, detracting from and prejudicing the objective credibility of Mr. Pearse’s report.”
The report by Dr. Wolfson gets more interesting as it goes on, “Actions by the Schindlers to remove Michael as Guardian and to block the petition to remove artificial life support on a frenetic quality at this juncture. More external parties on both sides made appearances as potential interveners.” So if first you don’t succeed involve more people. In the hearing of Michael Schiavo heresay was not allowed in Michael’s testimony but when a hearing occurred that featured testimony by Theresa’s brother-in-law and his wife heresay was admitted, “The motion and hearing process continued through 2000. Then the Schindler’s sought to introduce new evidence that was believed to be of a sufficiently substantial nature as to change the court’s decision regarding the removal of the feeding tube. The hearings and testimony before the trial court leading to the decision to discontinue artificial life support included admitted heresay from Theresa’s brother-in-law (Michael Schiavo’s brother) and his wife (Michael’s Schiavo’s sister-in-law) along with testimony from Michael. The testimony of these parties referenced specific conversations in which Theresa commented about her desire never to be placed on artificial life support. The testimony reflected conversations at or proximate to funerals of close family members who had been on artificial life support. The context and content of the testimony, while hearsay, was deemed credible and consistent and was used by the court as a supporting bases for its decision to discontinue artificial life support.” So heresay is allowed from everyone but Michael, the husband who knew Theresa best.

- Chris Mansel

No comments:

Blog Archive