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Jan LaRue

Jan LaRue is Chief Counsel and Legal Studies Director for Concerned Women of America. [go to LaRue index]


Too Bad Terri’s Not a Terrorist or a Condemned Murder
I’m fed up with liberal hypocrisy...
[Jan LaRue] 3/25/05

I’m a conservative Christian attorney who has practiced criminal and juvenile defense. I wholeheartedly advocate that no matter how heinous the crime, the accused must be afforded his or her constitutional rights. That includes appeals and writs of habeas corpus to obtain federal review after state court remedies have been exhausted. I support the rights of convicted criminals to have DNA testing that may prove their innocence, no matter how many courts have reviewed their cases.

Question: When it comes to Terri Schiavo, where are the usual liberal civil-rights advocates, the criminal defense bar, liberal law professors? A few are speaking out for Terri’s rights, but very few. And I applaud their consistency.

Everybody agrees that Terri’s wishes should be paramount, but why is a hearsay statement supposedly said 20 years ago credible? And why does anyone think that if she said it, she was talking about a feeding tube? Who considered food and water to be artificial life support back then?

What lawyer wouldn’t challenge probable cause for a search warrant based on the kind of stale and highly suspect hearsay that Judge Greer found to be clear and convincing evidence of Terri’s wishes, sufficient for him to order her death?

Where are those who file suit when some terrorist detainee in Guantanamo Bay didn’t get a cookie on his lunch tray or suffered the “torture” of having a guard dog growl at him? Where are those who file every motion, brief or appeal based on any and every argument they can think of in order to save the life of a serial murderer or a child-killer? Why aren’t they making arguments and filing briefs for Terri? They’ve either become mute or they’re in the media arguing against the kind of zealous advocacy on behalf of Terri that they regularly engage in.

And no surprise—where is the ACLU?—advocating for Terri’s death while they advocate for convicted murders who killed and sodomized a young boy in Massachusetts.

There’s constant harping about how many judges have reviewed Terri’s case. So what? None of them has reviewed the evidence to see if, as a matter of law, it’s sufficient to sustain the court’s orders. That’s what Congress ordered to be done in “Terri’s law.” But it wasn’t.

Suddenly it’s all about state rights and limiting review to state courts and federalism. And how dare Congress interfere by enacting a statute that gives Terri the same kind of federal review that Scott Peterson will have? The reason “Terri’s law” applies only to her is because the Senate Democrats refused to agree to unanimous consent to pass a bill unless it applied only to Terri. How convenient that they now blame Republicans who wanted a bill that would apply to anyone in Terri’s circumstances.

In Robles v. Coughlin, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that “the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment does require that prisoners be served ‘nutritionally adequate food that is prepared and served under conditions which do not present an immediate danger to the health and well being of the inmates who consume it.’”

Too bad Terri isn’t confined in a prison instead of a hospice. That’s where her husband placed her after he won a large award in a malpractice case, where he promised to care for her.

In 1984, the New Hampshire Supreme Court upheld a trial court order that authorized a prison warden to feed and nourish a prison inmate over his objection, even though he was mentally competent and wanted to die by starvation. Here we have a judge ordering the removal of food and water to cause starvation. Even if we knew that's what Terri wants, Florida law makes aiding and abetting a suicide a felony, and there's no black-robed exemption.

Terri Schiavo isn’t dying from a disease, she isn’t on a ventilator, she doesn’t meet Florida’s definition of “persistent vegetative state,” and she committed no crime. She’s being killed by a judge on the flimsiest of evidence.

Some missing advocates need to step up to the Bar. tOR

copyright 2005 Concerned Women of America





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