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Schiavo Case Still In Court

Gov. Jeb Bush and the parents of a severely brain-damaged woman won appellate court rulings in their favor Friday on two legal issues in their quest to keep the woman alive against her husband's wishes.

Florida's 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled that Pinellas Circuit Court Judge W. Douglas Baird did not follow judicial rules when he denied Terri Schiavo's parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, the ability to intervene in the constitutional challenge to a law aimed at keeping their 40-year-old woman alive.

The appeals court also ruled that Bush's attorneys will be allowed to question witnesses in the court battle over the law, which gave the governor authority to reinsert Schiavo's feeding tube after her husband had it removed in October.

The appeals court ordered Baird to hold further proceedings on the issue.

Schiavo's husband, Michael, has been battling the Schindlers in court for years to remove his wife's feeding tube so she can die. He says she would not have wanted to be kept alive artificially.

The Schindlers doubt their daughter, who lives in a Clearwater nursing home, had any such end-of-life wishes and believe her condition could improve with therapy. She has been in a persistent vegetative state since 1990 when she collapsed from a chemical imbalance.

Attorneys for Bush and Michael Schiavo did not immediately respond to phone messages seeking comment.

The Schindlers' attorney, Pat Anderson, said she was "stunned" by the rulings, because Florida courts have ruled against her and Schindlers so many times in the past.

"It's been three years since the law has been followed in this case," Anderson said.

The narrowly crafted law that allowed Bush to order Schiavo's feedings resume was passed by the Legislature in special session in October specifically to save her life. Six days earlier, her husband had had her feeding tube removed with court permission.

Michael Schiavo's attorney, George Felos, immediately sued Bush, asserting that the law violated Terri Schiavo's right to privacy and separation-of-power provisions of the Florida Constitution.

In fighting that lawsuit, Bush's attorney, Ken Connor, had sought to take depositions from seven witnesses, including Michael Schiavo and the woman with whom he now has a relationship, about issues relating to Terri Schiavo's' care and her end-of-life wishes.

Felos fought that effort, arguing that the issues raised by governor were irrelevant or were already covered when the witnesses testified in previous proceedings. Baird ruled in Felos' favor, but said he might allow depositions later if it was proven necessary.

But the appeals court said Friday that Michael Schiavo "failed to demonstrate good cause for a blanket ban on the taking of depositions."