[archive: February – March, 2005 — declassified: March 31, 2014]
It was, as the saying goes, something of a ‘long shot’.
At first glance, the obstacles seemed insurmountable.
- An husband hell-bent on having his way, and getting it with the US courts time after time, despite the appeals of Terri’s parents and family.
A nation divided and its elected leaders waffling; even the Governor’s and the President’s lawyers seemed to go about intervening for Terri the wrong way — or at least it seemed that way, given the repeated failed legal attempts.
What made us suppose we could succeed?
We prayed — begging God for the victory for Terri, and realizing that she was going to die, if nobody came up with a (legal) solution.
Which got us to thinking: how can God’s will be done to spare this innocent woman?
The crux of the legal problem quickly became as evident as it was simple, and difficult: how to claim dual citizenship for someone incapacitated and thus ‘incapable of legal acts’, like Terri, whose legal guardian (in this case her estranged-husband Michael Schiavo) was sanctioned by the court to ‘euthanize’ her?
Was there a legal counter-precedent in international law to apply in this case?
We asked an expert, an immigration lawyer in Manhattan for the answer.
And got it.
Read about it, today for the first time, by clicking on the hyperlinks below.
P.S. NCCL Directors had refrained for years to publish details of this project. Not because it did not succeed, but because it might yet succeed to save someone in Terri’s circumstances. After all, surprise was on the plan’s side.
1. Letter dated 21 February 2005 to President George W. Bush, to request he investigate mistreatment of Terri in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
2. March 25, 2005 – First e-mail of preliminary case notes formulated after a late-night conversation with NCCL Directors by the principal author of the plan, a monk now gone to his eternal reward.
3. March 26 – page one, second e-mail of preliminary case notes formulated after a late-night conversation with NCCL Directors 25 March by the principal author of the plan, “Dumb Ox”.
4. Page two, first e-mail of important preliminary case notes
5. March 25, 20:00 – March 26, 13:01 EST – First e-mail to David C. Gibbs, ESQ, chief defense attorney of Terri
6. March 26, 13:08 EST – Additional critical points accompanying petition to Holy Father
7. March 26 – First model letter of petition to Holy Father, intended for Mr. & Mrs. Schindler, parents of Terri, requesting citizenship
8. March 26, 14:15 EST – Fax cover sheet to transmit pages of e-mail sent earlier in the day
9. March 26, 14:35 EST – Fax cover sheet to Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, requesting intervention with Papal Nuncio in Washington, D.C.
10. March 26 – Letter to His Grace, Archbishop Chaput
11. March 28 – Letter to Atty. Gibbs informing that what is needed is a specialist in immigration law, informed of special status of Holy See in international law, who can answer whether foreign citizenship can be accepted by someone incapacitated and against will of a legal guardian
12. Important contact information of Apostolic Nuncio in Washington, D.C., and other VIPs (very important prelates)
13. March 30 – Final letter to Atty. Gibbs notifying of answer from specialist in immigration law, practicing in Manhattan, NYC.
Same letter accompanied the following three pages:
14. Page one, petition to Pope John Paul II, explaining exact request and supporting international law
15. Page two, of same petition to Pope John Paul II, explaining exact request and supporting international law
16. Second/final version of model letter of petition to Pope, to be signed by Mr. & Mrs. Schindler, parents of Terri
17. March 30 – Letter to Archbishop Chaput
The Archbishop did reply, after Terri had died. He had been away, attending to his own Mother who was then dying also, and thus had not received the faxed materials until he had returned to his Chancery.
On March 30, the NCCL Executive Director flew directly to Tampa, Florida, and introduced himself and the plan to Terri’s brother, Bobby Schindler, that evening. He was unpleasantly surprised that no one on the legal team had told him of the plan. He considered the plan, questioning and taking counsel from the Executive Director until very late that night, but decided against following the plan because his sister, whom he was permitted to visit earlier that evening, was, he rightly believed, living her last moments on this earth. In fact, Terri died hours later, that same morning, shortly before noon, March 31.
Project declassified March 31, 2014