Former Judges Defend ‘Grim Reaper’ Lawyer In COVID War With Ron DeSantis

Two former high-ranking Florida judges are standing up for a lawyer who posed as the Grim Reaper on seashores final summer season to criticize GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis’ dealing with of COVID-19 and even filed a lawsuit to power DeSantis to shut seashores within the state.

When a decrease courtroom dominated towards the lawyer, Daniel Uhlfelder, he appealed. However then the conservative First District Courtroom of Enchantment in Tallahassee referred him to the Florida Bar for discipline, calling his enchantment frivolous earlier this 12 months, and later appeared to retaliate after he spoke to the press, ordering that he be investigated for misconduct and contempt of court.

Former Justice R. Fred Lewis, who served on the Florida State Supreme Courtroom for greater than 20 years, filed an affidavit earlier this week defending Uhlfelder within the ongoing Bar Affiliation investigation. He wrote that the lawyer had every right to sue — and appeal.

“When a citizen believes the governor is violating his constitutional obligation to protect the life and well-being of his residents, he has the proper to carry that declare earlier than a courtroom of normal jurisdiction, and, if the trial courtroom believes it can’t hear it however encourages an enchantment, the Floridian has the proper to hunt an enchantment of that call,” Lewis wrote.

“It’s my view that authorized motion, the independence of counsel and necessities that legal professionals be robust advocates are pillars of our democracy,” Lewis added.

Former First District Courtroom of Appeals Chief Justice Robert Benton additionally filed an affidavit on Uhlfelder’s behalf, calling the “independence of the judiciary … key to preserving our liberties, and [the] independence of counsel important to our adversarial system.”

In the meantime, an editorial within the Orlando Sentinel this week mentioned the appeals courtroom “seems to be to be persecuting Uhlfelder to ship a message that right here in Florida, you don’t mess with this governor.”

Uhlfelder first began stalking Florida’s seashores because the Grim Reaper in Might 2020 because the state began to reopen early on within the coronavirus pandemic.

On Twitter on Thursday, he appeared happy to be known as the governor’s “chief tormentor” within the Sentinel op-ed and posted a chart of Florida’s skyrocketing COVID-19 deaths.

The state hit near a complete of 51,000 deaths from COVID on Monday. At the very least 2,400 Floridians died simply the primary two weeks of September.

Circumstances within the state, nonetheless, are starting to drop, with 9,760 reported on Thursday. That put the seven-day common to 11,816 circumstances, the bottom since July 22, based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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