Schumacher released; Donoghue still wrong

On Friday afternoon, a judge ordered the release of Christina Schumacher from Fletcher Allen Health Care. And I’m sure that First Amendment blunderbuss Mike Donoghue feels vindicated for repeatedly plastering her case all over the Burlington Free Press.

His editors apparently did; they went full-on tabloid with the story — the front-page headline screaming “COURT: RELEASE HER IMMEDIATELY” in bright red print and a font size normally reserved for national emergencies.

But I still believe he was wrong. There are good and valid reasons for medical privacy protections. Donoghue was alone in violating those protections. Everyone else kept silent: her caregivers, FAHC, her Legal Aid attorney, her family. Even the judge, who publicly released his bare-bones ruling but did not release the findings of fact and conclusions of law underlying the decision.

And even other news media: While Donoghue and the Free Press were tabloiding it up, nobody else reported on the case. I guess they’re all in on the plot, too.

So Donoghue gets to run a victory lap and move on to the next crusade, and Schumacher will return to her shattered life. I hope she makes it, I really do. And I hope the Free Press’ invasion of her privacy never rebounds against her — say, if she ever applies for a job and her prospective employer does a Google search.

We will never know why she was hospitalized, because the health care system protected her privacy. And in the process, allowed itself to be defamed without response. We will never know why the judge disagreed with her doctors, because he protected her privacy as well.

We will never really know if Donoghue’s publicity made any difference; the judicial process would have continued even if he’d never written a word. Presumably the judge’s ruling was based on his interpretation of the facts and the law, not on a blast of sensationalized reporting. If so, then Christina Schumacher would have been released regardless of Donoghue’s attentions.

Congratulations, Mike. I’m sure you got a nice little First Amendment stiffy when you heard the news. I still think you were wrong.  

10 thoughts on “Schumacher released; Donoghue still wrong

  1. this presents an interesting case-study. Curtains were pulled back & exposed the sad & harsh reality that we rarely get to see often if at all.

    Brave, intellegent & apparently unafraid of the consequences her actions may have posed to her reputation — while still  grieving an unimaginable loss during Xmas holiday she & justice prevailed. Despite the usual bad actors none other than the ever-complicit complete asshole & waste of skin sitting in AG office Bill Sorrell:

    Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell, whose office was arguing for Schumacher’s continued hospitalization, did not respond to a phone message seeking comment.

    Plz do not offer one of your legalese-laden canned excuses Mr Sorrell of why once again you sought to have justice swerved as there is none.

    Centybear said that although his staff participated in the screening that allowed for a three-day clinical review of Schumacher’s mental health, he questioned why the case dragged on so long

    “How did the 72 hours stretch into the other set of time?” he said, referring to 5½ weeks. “People are trying to do the best they can with something that is not an exact science.”

    Oh bullshit.

    Griffin, the Superior Court judge who ordered Schumacher’s release, had promised a quick written decision as he ended the hearing Wednesday evening. The proceeding was the first substantive judicial review of her case since she was hospitalized.

    At issue was whether Schumacher represented a threat. The HowardCenter, a Fletcher Allen psychiatrist and a hospital social worker had stated they believed she might have a mental illness that required treatment and “poses a danger to herself and others,” documents in the case show.

    We are being afforded a rare glimpse in the the sinister & dark side of “mental health treatment” & how they operate. This time a judge didn’t rubberstamp their criminal behavior. Interestingly, we also get to see all of the “caregivers” in their typical pack-style mode.

  2. We have so few facts here that all we can do is speculate.  But which speculation seems more likely?

    1. There was a vast conspiracy to tie up one of the few available psychiatric facility slots by holding someone who was perfectly fine.

    2. After having her child killed by her abusive husband, Christina Schumacher may have been at high risk of suicide (“poses a danger to herself and others”).

    I do have concerns that it took so long to get to a judicial review.  I would be interested to know why that happened.  I hope the judge made the right call.  At least he had a lot more facts than any of us do.

    As to how Sonny Schumacher got away with it for so long, I think the connections he had speak for themselves.  This is what really should be investigated.

  3. legal to call upon LE, forcibly detain, handcuff & arrest while attempting to involuntarily commit someone with not even a judges signature or the proper paperwork? While it is legal in VT — the only state — not to hold a hearing prior to emergency involuntary commitmnent, the LE officer who “balked” & refused to comply with those trying to illegally “streamline” the process without even a judges signature apparently agrees as he refused.

    I would dare say the FAHC didn’t expect the papers to be read so closely.

    I would further dare say to involuntarily commit someone against their will in a manner which is illegal is in fact a crime. And those perpetrating it are displaying criminal behavior.

    So the system needs to be “streamlined”?

    Uh huh.

    I see you have a soft-spot for the employees while I have a soft-spot for the patient/client, their well being as well as the justice they deserve.

    Welcome to the “I guess we disagree” club. Unlike everything else in this world except the misery thereof — membership is free.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *