SCHIAVO JUDGE URGES FLORIDIANS TO MAKE LIVING WILLS by Roxanne Escobales

03/14/06

Judge George Greer Urges Floridians to Make a Living Will

Judge George Greer, the jurist who ordered Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube be removed, spoke to an audience today in St. Petersburg. He urged Floridians to make a living will, and then he was given an award to standing ovation. This happened two weeks before Terri Schiavo’s parents publish a book about their experience coping with their daughter’s vegetative state and battling her husband in court to keep her alive. WMNF’s Roxanne Escobales was there.

The whole world watched last year as Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court Judge George Greer ordered the feeding tube removed from Terri Schiavo, who had laid in a vegetative state since 1990. Her husband, remarried and with children, fought for her natural death. Her family fought for her to be kept alive. Judge Greer had the unenviable task of presiding over the end-of-life proceedings. He had received death threats and had to escorted by police for his protection.

Today, speaking almost exactly a year after Schiavo’s life support was taken away, Judge Greer drove home his message: everyone should have a living will, a document that details the steps to be taken if one is too incapacitated to make one’s own life-or-death medical decisions.

ACT: 19:55

Terri Schiavo didn’t have a living will. It took her 13 days to die, after relying on medical intervention to live since 1990. Those that support judicial independence hailed Judge Greer as a hero. The pro-life camp called him a murderer.

At a Tiger Bay club luncheon at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club this afternoon, Greer’s protestors and detractors were notably absent. Club members and guests who listened to his speech at the St. Petersburg Yacht made their admiration clear.

Lunching on chicken and wild rice, the diners listened as the judge lectured on the history that surrounds court decisions in right-to-die cases.

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After his speech, Judge Greer answered questions from the floor. Replying to a question about how he keeps his personal beliefs from affecting his legal decisions, Greer drew laughter from the audience. A former member of Calvary Baptist Church, he was asked to leave the congregation following the Schiavo case.

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As a surprise ending to the Tiger Bay club meeting, Judge Greer received the Benjamin Franklin award, an accolade reserved to community leaders who show strength in decision-making. The audience gave him a standing ovation.ACT:

During the furore and heightened emotions that surrounded the Schiavo case, Politicians such as Governor Jeb Bush tried to intervene to keep Schiavo alive. Congress tried to rush a bill through to the same effect, threatening to challenge the independence of courts to make decisions that rule against popular demand.

When asked by WMNF to comment on a recent speech by former US Supreme Justice Sandra Day O’Connor who last week spoke out against Republican leaders strong-arming the court system, Judge Greer declined to comment.

ACT: tr12 “retire sometime in 2011�

And so we have to wait five years before Greer’s true feelings surrounded the landmark Schiavo ruling can be heard. Until then, for WMNF, I’m Roxanne Escobales

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