Two former high-ranking Florida judges defend a lawyer who posed as the Grim Reaper on the beaches last summer to criticize Governor Ron DeSantis’ handling of the GOP of COVID-19 and even filed a lawsuit to force DeSantis to close state beaches.
When a lower court ruled against lawyer Daniel Uhlfelder, he appealed. But then the Conservative Tallahassee First District Court of Appeals sent him back to the Florida Bar for discipline, calling his appeal frivolous earlier this year, and then appeared to strike back after speaking to the press, ordering that he is being investigated for misconduct and contempt to seek.
Former Justice R. Fred Lewis, who served on the Florida State Supreme Court for more than 20 years, filed an affidavit earlier this week defending Uhlfelder in the ongoing Law Society investigation. He wrote that the lawyer had every right to sue – and to appeal.
“When a citizen considers that the governor violates his constitutional obligation to preserve the life and the well-being of his citizens, he has the right to bring this claim before a court of general jurisdiction and, if the court of first instance considers that ‘he can’t hear it but encourages an appeal, the Floridian has the right to appeal this decision,’ Lewis wrote.
“In my opinion, legal action, the independence of lawyers and the requirement that lawyers be strong advocates are pillars of our democracy,” Lewis added.
Former Chief Justice of the First District Court of Appeal, Robert Benton, also filed an affidavit on behalf of Uhlfelder, calling “the independence of the judiciary … the key to preserving our freedoms, and [the] the independence of the lawyer is essential to our adversarial system.
Meanwhile, an Orlando Sentinel editorial this week said the appeals court “appears to be persecuting Uhlfelder for sending the message that here in Florida you are not messing with this governor.”
Uhlfelder began stalking Florida beaches as the Grim Reaper in May 2020 as the state began reopening at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
On Twitter Thursday, he seemed happy to be called “the governor’s”chief executionerIn the Sentinel editorial and posted a graph of skyrocketing COVID-19 deaths in Florida.
The state struck nearly 51,000 deaths from COVID on Monday. At least 2,400 Floridians died in the first two weeks of September.
Cases in the state, however, are starting to decline, with 9,760 reported as of Thursday. That brings the seven-day average to 11,816 cases, the lowest since July 22, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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