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"Pro-life" justice, Texas style

In 1993, a fourteen-year-old boy, Willie Searcy, was in a car accident that left him a "ventilator-dependent quadriplegic." For the rest of his life he was going to need machines and constant nursing to keep him alive. His parents' insurance wouldn't cover it, and the family didn't have the money to pay for it. They had a ventilator, but no backup generator in case of a power failure. Medicaid provided 104 hours per week of nursing, but it was cut to 34 hours per week when he turned 21.

His injuries were partly caused by a defective seat belt. An East Texas jury ordered the manufacturer to pay Willie Searcy $30 million. That money would have kept him alive if he'd ever gotten it. But the case was appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, where, unfortunately for Willie Searcy, the judge who took the case was Priscilla Owen -- who found a way to send the case back to square one on very dubious legal grounds.

It would be another three years before the Dallas Court of Appeals handed down a ruling giving Willie Searcy's family money to care for him. But it was too late. Four days after the ruling, his ventilator stopped working during the night. When his mother went into his room at 5 a.m., he was dead. He was 21 years old.

Yes, that's THE Priscilla Owen, who is now the lead nominee of Bush's questionable nominations for Federal judgeships -- you know, the "nuclear option" thing. Yes, that's right, the "pro-life" Priscilla Owen.
From bodyandsoul blog --

Two years after the lawyers representing Willie Searcy and the lawyers representing Ford had requested an expedited hearing, Owen wrote the majority opinion. A process that could have been completed within months of the oral argument in November 1996 dragged on until Owen completed her opinion in March 1998.

Her opinion was stunning. Not because it ruled against Willie Searcy and his mother, Susan Miles, but because of how it ruled against them. Owens ruled the case would have to be retried in Dallas because it was initially filed in the wrong venue. Yet venue was not among the issues, or "points of error," the court said it would consider two years earlier when it took up the case. "We felt like we got ambushed," said Ayres. A lawyer who had worked at the court at the time agreed: "If venue wasn't in the points of error, it is unusual that the court addressed it. If the justices decide they want the court to address something not in the points of error, they would ask for additional briefing. They send letters to the parties and ask for briefing." There had been no letters and no requests.

Willie Searcy's case was a textbook example of "results oriented" justice that is common in Texas. Often, judges first determine the desired outcome of a case. Then they adapt the facts and the law to make it happen. It was also a glaring example of judicial activism, or making law from the bench, which is anathema to conservative Republicans -- unless it serves their purposes, as it did in the Terri Schiavo case.

These rulings are not entirely informed by the justices' love for certain principles of law. If the Texas Supreme Court is the most business-friendly bench in the nation -- and it is -- it's because corporate interests pay for the justices' election campaigns. Of the $175,328 Owen took in from the Texas defense bar while Willie Searcy's case moved through the courts, she got $20,450 from Baker Botts, the mega-firm run by Bush family consigliere James A. Baker III. Baker Botts was part of Ford's defense team.

 http://bodyandsoul.typepad.com/blog/2005/05/prolife_judges.html
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There's talk that the "compromise" whereby some of Bush's judicial nominees will be confirmed, but the "nuclear option" will be avoided, has collapsed. I say, GOOD!

If there is any "compromise" or if the "nuclear option" happens and the Senate implodes -- it doesn't matter, it'll be too late for Willie Searcy.

NO COMPROMISE. NO PRISCILLA OWEN. (And she's supposed to be the best they've got!)

According to cnn.com --

"I'm used to the rough-and-tumble politics, but this thing, not allowing her on the federal bench because she's some monster, is like so wrong," said the Rev. Jeff Black, her pastor at St. Barnabas the Encourager Evangelical Covenant Church in Austin. "We just get so upset because she simply is not like that at all, not even a little bit.

"She's like the wonderful older sister or aunt" for some of the youngsters in her Sunday school class, Black said.

 http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/05/19/filibuster.owen.ap/
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Well, Reverend, she wasn't much of an older sister or aunt for Willie Searcy, was she?

Oh, she's not perfect, just forgiven?