Tampa Bay Tribune | May 9, 2005
By LISA A. DAVIS
NEW PORT RICHEY - Pinellas- Pasco Circuit Judge George Greer, who was thrust into the national spotlight and scrutinized by pro-life advocates during the Terri Schiavo case, was a consistent judge who followed the law, colleagues say.
His professionalism and integrity was punctuated by the way he handled the Schiavo case, said Alan Scott Miller, a New Port Richey lawyer and member of the West Pasco Bar Association.
As part of Law Week, which kicks off today, the association will award Greer, 63, its Special Justice Award.
``He's getting this award for all of his contributions on the bench, not just the Schiavo case,'' Miller said. ``It's like a lifetime achievement award for an actor.''
Greer will receive the award during a banquet Thursday at the Heritage Springs Golf and Country Club, 11345 Robert Trent Jones Parkway.
For years, Greer presided over the politically and emotionally charged Schiavo case, which ended when the 41- year-old woman died March 31, 13 days after her feeding tube was removed a third time on a court order.
Some doctors said Schiavo was in a persistent vegetative state since suffering brain damage after her heart stopped in 1990.
Her husband, Michael, fought for years to have her feeding stopped, saying his wife didn't want to be kept alive by artificial means.
Her parents, hoping she would recover, fought him in court after court.
Eventually, Florida's governor and Legislature and then Congress took up the battle.
Supporters and detractors watched as Greer made rulings backing Terri Schiavo's purported wishes and received threats on his life.
``I don't think anyone could ever say his decisions were unlawful,'' said Joan Nelson Hook, president of the West Pasco Bar Association. ``They were very thoughtful. His decisions were meticulous.
``We admired his ability to sustain the pressure not to follow the law. ... I think that shows his character.''
Steve Doran, association president-elect, echoed Hook's thoughts on Greer's handling of the Schiavo case.
``His decisions in that unfortunate case withstood the test of every appellate court in the country,'' Doran said. ``Those who are criticizing him are not seeing the big picture.''
When the association voted this month on this year's recipient of the Special Justice Award, the result was almost unanimous for Greer.
``He's a man of integrity. He's followed the flow. He's done an excellent job on the bench,'' said Miller. ``That's why he's getting this award.''
In addition to Greer's award, the Law Week celebration offers events that allow the community to get a closer look at what the West Pasco Bar Association and the law profession are about, Hook said.
``It's an opportunity to interact with all levels of the community,'' she said.
``It's not just about battles; law is a way of life.''
Here are some events:
* Representatives of the association will be at Gulf View Square mall in Port Richey offering free legal advice from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Friday.
* All week, 22 lawyers will visit Pasco schools to discuss the law and this week's national theme, ``The American Jury: We the People in Action.''
* The 2nd District Court of Appeal will hold a special session at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the West Pasco Government Center, 7530 Little Road, in county commission chambers.
* Business suits, shoes and accessories will be collected at area law offices for Connections, a not-for-profit organization that helps people looking for jobs.
The following law offices are collecting men's and women's apparel:
The Law Offices of Attridge, Cohen & Lucas, 7136 Little Road, New Port Richey; The O'Conner Law Group, 9735 U.S. 19, Suite 2, Port Richey; Pejot Law, 11911 Pine Forest Drive, New Port Richey; and The Law Offices of Gay & Ehrhardt, 5318 Balsam St., New Port Richey.