'Grim Reaper' lawyer supported by former Florida Supreme Court justice in sanctions case

click to enlarge Daniel Uhlfelder is facing punishment for the way in which he criticized Gov. DeSantis' handling of the the coronavirus. - Photo via Daniel Uhlfelder/Twitter
Photo via Daniel Uhlfelder/Twitter
Daniel Uhlfelder is facing punishment for the way in which he criticized Gov. DeSantis' handling of the the coronavirus.

The lawyer who drew attention to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' hands-off approach to the pandemic by dressing as the Grim Reaper is staring down punishment from the Florida Bar. As he makes his case, however, Daniel Uhlfelder has some powerful names in his corner. A former state Supreme Court chief justice backed Uhlfelder in a brief shared with the News Service of Florida.

R. Fred Lewis, who served on the state's highest court for more than two decades, struck at the allegation that Uhlfelder had filed suit against the state as a publicity stunt.

“When a citizen believes the governor is violating his constitutional duty to preserve the life and well-being of his citizens, he has the right to bring that claim before a court of general jurisdiction, and, if the trial court believes it cannot hear it but encourages an appeal, the Floridian has the right to seek an appeal of that decision,” Lewis explained.

Lewis rested his argument on the idea that the right to file suit to rectify what the plaintiff views as wrongs is crucial to the American judicial system.

“It is my opinion and legal view that the lawsuit and appeal were not frivolous,” Lewis said. “I submit this affidavit because it is my view that legal action, the independence of counsel and requirements that lawyers be strong advocates are pillars of our democracy. The independence of the judiciary is also key to preserving our liberties and independence of counsel essential to our adversarial system.”

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