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April 14, 2005

Updated - Terri Schiavo Attorney Calls on Georgia Court

Topics: News

mae_magouirk.jpgLate this evening I spoke with Ken Mullinax regarding the Gibbs Lawfirm's press release which we posted in full earlier in the day. We had contacted him after we, along with several readers, noted a few discrepancies in what had been released.

Mullinax verified that a "feeding tube" was never pulled from his Aunt Mae Magouirk. Rather, an IV line for hydration was removed shortly after being put in place.

Earlier in the day, Mullinax's attorney, Jack Kirby, had secured permission for Mae's brother and sister to visit her. Mullinax has also received visitation rights and had just returned from visiting his Aunt Mae Magouirk and his mother, Lonnie Ruth Mullinax prior to our conversation. Both are recovering and doing well.

Mae Magouirk is being fed, and has been since last Saturday, through a feeding tube inserted in her nose. Although speaking is difficult, she is forming complete sentences and communicating. Mae is no longer taking morphine and is suffering only from neck pain.

What Mullinax would like to see happen is joint guardianship between one of Mae's grandchildren and her brother, A.B. McLeod. He and several other family members, including Mae's grandson, Shane Magouirk, are meeting tomorrow to try to come to an agreement and resolve their dispute.

Troup County Probate Judge Donald Boyd, who has had charge of the case since April 1, voluntarily recused himself earlier today. If an agreement cannot be reached, the guardianship dispute will be heard by Georgia State Judge Jeannette Little.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Mae's family as the try to end this dispute and act in her best interest.

Here is the full statement released by the Gibbs Lawfirm:

David Gibbs of Gibbs Law Firm in Seminole, Florida, lead counsel for Robert and Mary Schindler, parents of the late Terri Schiavo, today called on a Georgia Probate Court Judge to protect innocent life in the case of Mae Magouirk, an 81-year-old widow whose feeding tube[IV] was removed with court permission. Mrs. Magouirk was placed in a hospice and denied substantial nourishment and fluids by her granddaughter, Beth Gaddy, even though Mrs. Magouirk was not terminal, comatose, or in a vegetative state, and even though the provisions of her Living Will request feeding and hydration. Mrs. Magouirk's brothers and sisters, who want to save her life, had Kenneth Mullinax, Magouirk's nephew and family spokesman, contact Mr. Gibbs regarding the legal issues in this life and death matter.

David Gibbs, whose office spoke with Mullinax, stated:

"I am shocked and dismayed that within mere hours of Terri's death, another court in Georgia was subjecting an 81-year-old widow to the very same inhumane treatment as Terri Schiavo."
Family spokesman Mullinax reported that Mrs. Magouirk was placed in a LaGrange, Georgia medical facility on March 13 with a dissected aorta, a congenital medical condition shared by other members of her family. Beth Gaddy, Mrs. Magouirk's granddaughter, subsequently determined that her grandmother should die rather than receive medical treatment and moved her to a hospice facility. After court proceedings, the intervention of a panel of 3 doctors, the support of the friends of Terri Schiavo, and the vocal outreach by her siblings in neighboring Alabama, Mrs. Magouirk was finally rescued from Hospice LaGrange on Saturday, April 9 and flown by lifesaver helicopter to the University of Alabama-Birmingham Medical Center, where she is now receiving nourishment, fluids and proper medical attention.

Mr. Mullinax also reports that although a Troup County Probate Court compromise was reached on April 4 between all the parties, Beth Gaddy, Mae Magouirk's granddaughter, who was appointed as temporary guardian by Judge Donald W. Boyd, issued an order to the UAB Medical Center denying other family members full visitation rights and access to medical information. Mrs. Magouirk's brother filed a motion on Wednesday, April 13 before Judge Boyd asking for restoration of visitation rights and medical record access for the family members who want to keep Mrs. Magourik alive.

Gibbs said,

"Our office would strongly urge Judge Boyd to grant the request of Mrs. Magouirk's closest living next of kin. In fact, after reviewing the circumstances of this situation and remembering our personal experience with Terri's case, we would suggest the judge go one step farther and recognize Beth Gaddy's financial interest in this case. Not unlike Michael Schiavo's conflict of interest with his wife, Beth Gaddy and her brother and sister are the sole beneficiaries of Mrs. Magouirk's estate. As such, Ms. Gaddy should not be given court authority to make medical care decisions intended to result in Mrs. Magouirk's death in violation of her written living will."
That additional component in Mrs. Magouirk's case is one the Schiavo case did not have. Gibbs continued:
"It would seem obvious that Judge Boyd should honor Mrs. Magouirk's living will and award her guardianship to family members who would honor her wishes. This case again points up the need for our nation to seriously consider the need for federal legislation permitting federal habeas-type review for court decisions that are intended to result in the death of the elderly and disabled."

Background:

Magouirk's Granddaughter, Elizabeth "Beth" Gaddy had her placed in Hospice LaGrange, Ga. on March 22 despite the objections of Magouirk's sister and brother, who are her closest living next of kin. Magouirk's siblings discovered that she was being denied life-sustaining nourishment and fluids on March 31 and have brought this matter before the courts and media in an attempt to save her life.


Source: Gibbs Law Firm Press Release

Update: The original press release states that Mae's "feeding tube" was removed. It is my understanding, based upon Ken Mullinax's prior statements, that it was her "IV" that had been inserted and then pulled after Beth Gaddy was granted emergency guardianship. Consequently, I've amended the press release accordingly.

Posted by tim at April 14, 2005 4:45 PM


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Comments

Where did this article originally come from?

I believe that Gibbs has gotten the fact's rather twisted! This case is not at all like Terri Schiavo's case! The judge ruled that a variety of doctors examine the patient, and whatever they thought would be law. The doctors examined her, and she was moved into safety!

Posted by: thesensibleman at April 14, 2005 5:00 PM

TheSensibleMan,

It is quite similar to the Terri situation because in both cases, the victim was denied their rights and was forced to be dehydrated and starved against their will.

Posted by: Sirena at April 14, 2005 5:15 PM

"This case again points up the need for our nation to seriously consider the need for federal legislation permitting federal habeas-type review for court decisions that are intended to result in the death of the elderly and disabled."

Hmm...would someone please explain that part to me more? Being unskilled in legal terminology as I am...I could use some help deciphering that.

Is this akin to what Mary et. al. has commented about (guardian ad litem group of doctors and clergy, etc.)?

Posted by: juleni at April 14, 2005 5:17 PM

habeas corpus--you have the body. A writ petitioning the court to bring the imprisoned person into the court for further review. In a way that is what Congress was trying to do when it summoned Terri for a congretional hearing. Perhaps that is what Gibbs was refering to when he said Terri had been denied due process.

Posted by: mary et. al. at April 14, 2005 5:46 PM

Ah! I understand now, Mary. Thank you.

Posted by: juleni at April 14, 2005 5:51 PM

I'm not sure what the point of this post is. It's already been established that Mae never had a feeding tube, nor did the court permit the removal of said non-existent feeding tube.

I find this entry counter-productive to the cause, as it gives the impression Gibbs knew absolutely no facts or was perhaps even lied to, when he issued his opinion.

Posted by: Carol at April 14, 2005 6:08 PM

Did I miss something, Carol? I couldn't find Gibbs commenting on a feeding tube in the article.

Posted by: mary et. al. at April 14, 2005 6:13 PM

David Gibbs of Gibbs Law Firm in Seminole, Florida, lead counsel for Robert and Mary Schindler, parents of the late Terri Schiavo, today called on a Georgia Probate Court Judge to protect innocent life in the case of Mae Magouirk, an 81-year-old widow whose feeding tube was removed with court permission.

Followed by this:

David Gibbs, whose office spoke with Mullinax, stated:

"I am shocked and dismayed that within mere hours of Terri's death, another court in Georgia was subjecting an 81-year-old widow to the very same inhumane treatment as Terri Schiavo."

Gives me the impression the two comments are related. Anyway, would it not be prudent to change the 'tube feed' and the 'court's permission' part of the post? Or at the very least, post a disclaimer. You know, before someone really does get a lawyer and start suing people for libel?

You'll have to forgive me, I'm pretty anal about keeping things straight.

Posted by: Carol at April 14, 2005 6:22 PM

I didn't find Gibb's commenting on the feeding tube either. Just the opening narrative.

I went back and read the first article I read about Mae and her plight and found this:

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=43688

"Under the terms of his ruling, Gaddy was granted full and absolute authority over Magouirk, at least for the weekend. She took advantage of her judge-granted power by ordering her grandmother's feeding tube pulled out, just hours after it had been inserted."

So, was the article incorrect?

Posted by: Sirena at April 14, 2005 6:24 PM

No Sirena, she's never had a feeding tube. Mae's siblings wanted her to have an NG-tube, IV and further treatment. Your link is from April 7th, and the story has developed since then.

Posted by: Carol at April 14, 2005 6:28 PM

Keeping things straaight is good. Especially when one's credibity is as important as it is in this instance. Maybe I'm dense, but I can't tell who wrote this. I get the quote from LGibbs via his law firm, but the rest of it I don't know the author of. (Watch all the English teachers cringe from that sentence. Ha!) Not a bad idea to point out the error of somebody's ways, though, because inexactitude could get us all in trouble.

Posted by: mary et. al. at April 14, 2005 6:28 PM

Oh, brother, I apologize to all English teachers. That was replete with typos.

Posted by: mary et. al. at April 14, 2005 6:31 PM

Gotcha.

I too, don't like errors in reporting. Hopefully someone has contacted the Gibbs office and let them know Mae was never on a feeding tube.

However, whether she was on a feeding tube or not, she was still being denied hydration or food.

Posted by: Sirena at April 14, 2005 6:33 PM

Mary, the bottom of the post says it is a Gibbs law firm press release.

Which is, in essence, a rehash of everything we already know (leaving out such things as the feeding tube which have turned out to be not exactly correct). I suppose this means the law firm has decided to go for even more publicity instead of working things out quietly. Too bad.

Posted by: Creatureofhabit at April 14, 2005 6:34 PM

If you want to call their office and reprimand them here is their info:

Gibbs Law Firm, P.A.
5666 Seminole Boulevard, Suite Two
Seminole, Florida 33772
(727) 399-8300 Telephone

Posted by: Sirena at April 14, 2005 6:35 PM

Sheesh, why is everyone being so negative lately?

Posted by: Sirena at April 14, 2005 6:37 PM

I really need to say something here. I don't know the Schindler's lawyer was in the first hearing before judge Greer, but the case was botched from day one. Appellate courts are very reluctant to overturn factual determinations by lower courts. They will review to make sure proper law and procedure is followed but they give great deference to factual determinations made by lower courts.

The Schindler's lost Terri's case 7 years ago when they went into the hearing unprepared. They had very little to rebut Michael's testimony, not enough of their own medical experts, they failed to cross examine Dr. Cranford on his pro-euthanasia beliefs, and who knows what else.

The trial court is where it all happens, and I really hope Gibbs is focusing on that. Was Dr. Stout qualified to make a determination that Mae was terminal? What are his attitudes toward the elderly ill? Does Mae's chart have any notations from concerned nurses that were ignored by the on call doctor? What is his record and position on elder care? How many other patients from that hospice have died of dehydration recently? Are there any witnesses outside the family to Beth's alleged acts of bad faith? And so on and so on. These things need to be put on the record at the next guardianship hearing or they will never be considered by any judge now or down the line!

If Gibbs is just interested in standing in front of the Klieg lights again, the Mullinax family would do better with a couple of law students and an organ grinder's monkey.

Posted by: Creatureofhabit at April 14, 2005 6:43 PM

"Sheesh, why is everyone being so negative lately?"

If you mean me, I just think that now that Mae is out of danger, her interests will be better served by careful, thoughtful and well-prepared legal filings, not more grandstanding.

Posted by: Creatureofhabit at April 14, 2005 6:46 PM

Creature, nope, I was directing it everyone. I agree, we need careful, thoughtful legal filings... but it seems many are too eager to shut people down for trying to save a life.

Posted by: Sirena at April 14, 2005 6:52 PM

The direct quotes from Gibbs lead me to believe that the rest of it was written by some "other". That is the way it should be, anyway, so perhaps we have another error by way of misleading authorship. Perhaps Tim would know. He posted it.

Hey, Tim, who wrote this article?

Posted by: mary et. al. at April 14, 2005 6:54 PM

Mary, et al, the entire contents of the post is a press release. The contact person is listed as representive of the Gibb's Law firm. I've updated the source info to include a link to it.

Posted by: tim at April 14, 2005 7:17 PM

Mary,
maybe, but it is common practice in press releases to include a few direct quotes (even if the person quoted is the same person who is writing the press release) so that a reporter can insert the quotes into his article and make it look like he did some reporting. This is a topic for someone else's blog, but you might be shocked to find out just how many press releases make it into the "official" news media practically word for word. If this makes it into the MSM tommorow, compare the wording.

Posted by: Creatureofhabit at April 14, 2005 7:20 PM

The press release states that Mae's "feed tube" was pulled. As noted by others, it is my understanding that it was her "IV" that had been inserted and then pulled after Beth Gaddy was granted emergency guardianship. Consequently, I've amended the press release accordingly.

Posted by: tim at April 14, 2005 7:34 PM

Thank you, Tim. I wish this weren't the case. It unsettles me. But then perhaps it is a good argument for having a crack team of attorneys.

Posted by: mary et. al. at April 14, 2005 7:48 PM

Tim, it seems to me that if you're going to post a press release, you shouldn't change it, even if it contains an inaccuracy. That's Gibbs' problem, not yours. It is worrisome that Gibbs can't get his facts straight more than a week after this broke, and I don't think it helps if people cover for him.

By the way, regarding my post above, I don't know who the Schindler's attorney was in the January 2000 hearing in front of Greer. Whoever it was, I hope Mae Magouirk's attorneys do a better job this time around.

Posted by: Creatureofhabit at April 14, 2005 8:11 PM

This will never see a courtroom Creatureofhabit. I was going to suggest that to you the day before yesterday, but we'll see.

As for Gibbs, I'm just still sore that the 'team' sat on what they felt were Terri's attempts to verbalize "I want" for a week. I'm sure he's a fine lawyer.

As for this press release, there was a more recent one last night which was suddenly pulled about 10 minutes after it was posted. (shows I'm here way too much). In it, Gibbs was calling for joint-guardianship between Gaddy, and Mae's siblings. Anyone know what happened to that release, and why it was pulled? Was it a hoax?

Posted by: Carol at April 14, 2005 8:49 PM

I have no idea, but it would be interesting to know what's going on. Perhaps we should use the contact info Sirena shared and find out.

Posted by: mary et. al. at April 14, 2005 9:00 PM

Do you remember who posted it. That's asking a lot, I know.

Since the Bloggers are almost as scarce as hen's teeth, I took the time to read Deacon Fournier's article on Terri's martyrdom and wow! He hit athe head right on the nail. I'm going to write him tomorrow and ask him about a team of attorneys to back up any ad litem groups we can start. As soon as I get a group going in this area I want to begin studying the root problem with the judiciary and start working on a good treatment program. I am beginning to feel strongly that the root lies in the head (US Supreme Court) and if so I can't imagine what could be done.

Posted by: mary et. al. at April 14, 2005 9:17 PM

OK, don't call me dense. Just accept the fact that I am. I found it and read nothing I didn't read in the above article? Clue me in.

Posted by: mary et. al. at April 14, 2005 9:34 PM

Yeah, I'm not overly afraid of death either, but I'm an old dog who has seen too much already. But I do have children and grandchildren I watch over like a hawk and it is them and all the other "little ones" like Terri I am fighting for.

The groups would be comprised of doctors and clergy who are trained in life issues and would be in a position to make intelligent and compassionate decisions on behalf of the ones who had asked them to be their guardians. They would be knowledgable as judges aren't, uncompromised as family members aren't and pro life as too many of these people aren't. They would do it in response to the mandate God laid on all of us in Proverbs 24:10-12. Did I miss anything?

Posted by: mary et. al. at April 14, 2005 9:53 PM

I do think the IV hydration was inserted and pulled. But it's not good that Gibbs thought it was a feeding tube.

I respect your desire to be very careful with all of this, Carol, but I find the story about the insertion and later removal of the IV credible. The thing is, I think we need to take a position of not necessarily accepting Ken Mullinax's _perspective_ on everything and in particular of not _filling in_ assumptions that he's handled everything perfectly here, but at the same time to grant him some prima facie credibility as a witness to things, especially things that lie within his own direct experience and that would be easy to check out. In this spirit, I'm inclined to accept his entire account of their having gotten a call from the hospice lawyer (if anything, this sheds a good light on hospice), having been told that they _couldn't_ have a feeding tube inserted that night but being _allowed_ to order IV hydration, etc., getting there the next day, the attempted dissuasion by the hospice nurse... It's all very detailed, and he's been consistent in his story throughout. I think it's true.

But I think they botched the agreement. It was a delicate thing--maybe they were afraid to go farther and leave too much in the hands of what they perceived as a hostile judge. But they should at least have tried to stand firm on a requirement for pro-active full hydration and nutrition while the doctors were deliberating as part of the settlement deal.

Posted by: Lydia at April 14, 2005 9:59 PM

I didn't argue the IV part Lydia. I don't know what happened, one way or the other. However, both sides have agreed that there was no feeding tube, and that was my only issue here. I'm not sure why they put this old release up. I found the newer one they did have up last night (and then took down about 10 minutes later). I've posted it above.

I'm sorry my skepticism about Kenneth is so transparent...lol. I'll try to do a better job of covering that up.

Posted by: Carol at April 14, 2005 10:12 PM

Yes, indeed, lol. I personally want to keel over as painlessly as possible in my garden and hope that someone comes along and shovels me under.

However loved ones are a problem here. It seems that Terri and Mae loved not wisely, but too well. Perhaps we should try for "loving ones".

Posted by: mary et. al. at April 14, 2005 10:14 PM

LoL Mary...you have a good plan too. I like that one.

We buried my grandfather on Monday. He had an awful time of it...thrashed around struggling to breathe. He wanted no measures taken, and it was really hard for my father and uncle to watch that. That's why I have no directives at all. I don't want to burden my family with my decisions...but I don't want them to suffer from them either. They'll have to take care of me the old-fashioned way, I think. Get an informed opinion, and act on it when they're ready to. My main concern is how they feel...I'll be gone, and it won't matter to me.

I know what you mean about Mae and Terri. Everything in life is a gamble, it seems. "Loving ones"...that's very nice. I like that.

Posted by: Carol at April 14, 2005 10:23 PM

You know, that's anoather good point in favor of this group; save stressed family members from haavaing to make decisions they aren't equipped to handle. I'm sorry to hear about your grandfather. That had to be very difficult for all of you. All of my loved ones who preceded me went quickly and blessedly. They spent an hour trying to revive my mother when I knew she only wanted 20 minutes spent on it, but I wasn't allowed near to speak. Anyway, I always said I bet she laughed all the way to heaven because they couldn't bring her back. A few hours later I was in my room crying when the happiest, most peaceful feeling came over me. I still think God let Mom come back to comfort me. He's so kind like that.

Posted by: mary et. al. at April 14, 2005 10:40 PM

Well, Carol, it has been fun and informative, but I need to go now and present myself to God and try to give a good account for this day He gave me, because I am crashing. I hope to see you tomorrow and perhaps we can slay a dragon or a gnat or something. Ha!

Posted by: mary et. al. at April 14, 2005 10:57 PM

I read this post several hours ago and tried to make a comment but somehow I wasn't shown as logged in so I emailed and finally found out the secret.

Anyway, here's my question. If Mae is able to talk and it seems she's coherent, why can't she state her own wishes verbally or get her own attorney to work on her behalf? If she is coherent (and I don't know if she is)why does she still need a guardian?

Posted by: Jeanette at April 14, 2005 11:24 PM

I'm glad you got to spend that extra time with your mom, Mary. That must have been a real blessing for you.

I hope you sleep well. :)

Posted by: Carol at April 14, 2005 11:34 PM

Jeanette, being lucid is not the same as being legally competent (think of a 6 year old, for example). In Mrs. Magouirk's case, both her families argued that she was legally incapacitated, and that was the finding of judge Boyd. Getting herself declared competent would entail the same kind of hearing that would be needed to replace one guardian with another.

Carol, why do you think this case will never be tried in court? I can't imagine how this could end without a trial unless Mae dies, or the Gaddy side gives up voluntarily.

Posted by: Creatureofhabit at April 14, 2005 11:47 PM

Carol and Creature - I just spoke with Ken Mullinax (who was not responsible for the press release) and have updated this post.

Posted by: tim at April 15, 2005 1:13 AM