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‘Grim Reaper’ Lawyer in Hot Water With District Court Over Lawsuit to Get DeSantis to Close Beaches

‘Grim Reaper’ Lawyer in Hot Water With District Court Over Lawsuit to Get DeSantis to Close Beaches

“Appellant and his counsel undoubtedly used this court merely as a stage from which to act out their version of political theater. This was unprofessional and an abuse of the judicial process,” the judges stated.

In April, Democrats and the mainstream media began using Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as a whipping boy for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s pandemic management failures in New York.

Florida lawyer Daniel Uhlfelder kicked it up a notch by donning a grim reaper costume and periodically hitting the state’s beaches to remind beachgoers about the COVID crisis and to try and shame DeSantis in the process.

A month before he started his Grim Reaper gig, Uhlfelder and another attorney filed a lawsuit against DeSantis to try and force him to close the state’s beaches.

Uhlfelder got a lot of state and national media attention at the time. CNN led the way by painting the Democrat attorney as a selfless hero committed to the health and well-being of his fellow Floridians in contrast to DeSantis, who they frequently called some variation of the term “grandma killer.”

Uhlfelder enjoyed the attention so much that crackpot antics became his thing. For instance, in September, he appeared in front of the governor’s mansion dressed as a shepherd. Alongside him were several goats and a team of “socially responsible doctors” who were there to squash any talk of trying the pandemic’s herd immunity approach.

For the record, DeSantis is not on record as supporting the herd immunity approach.

Uhlfelder put up several Grim Reaper billboards urging people to vote. He’s driven around the state displaying anti-DeSantis billboards.

But despite all the fawning media attention and the Twitter adoration, Uhlfelder has received, his lawsuit against DeSantis hasn’t gone so well. His appeal efforts have landed him in hot water with the First District Court of Appeals in Florida:

An appeals court wants The Florida Bar to consider disciplinary action against a Panhandle attorney who pursued a high-profile case seeking to force Gov. Ron DeSantis to close beaches because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal, in an order issued Friday, stopped short of imposing financial sanctions against Santa Rosa Beach attorney Daniel Uhlfelder and lawyers who represented him in an appeal of a circuit judge’s ruling in the case.

But the panel sharply criticized Uhlfelder and his lawyers, saying that “they knew or should have known that their ‘demands’ that the Governor ‘close the beaches’ were not validly asserted below (in the circuit court) or on appeal.”

“There was no good faith legal argument to support a claim for such relief in the trial court, and there was certainly no good faith basis to argue legal error on appeal,” said the order by Judges Brad Thomas and Adam Tanenbaum.

“Appellant (Uhlfelder) and his counsel undoubtedly used this court merely as a stage from which to act out their version of political theater. This was unprofessional and an abuse of the judicial process.”

In the February 5th order rebuking Uhlfelder, the judges noted they were referring the opinion stated in the order “to The Florida Bar for its consideration of whether Appellant and his counsel violated the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar.” They also encouraged the Florida Bar to “take appropriate action to ensure that Appellant and his counsel understand their ethical obligations and proper roles as officers of the court.” Also, if they deemed it necessary, “require Appellant and his counsel to undertake additional educational training the Bar may deem appropriate to ensure that Appellant and counsel comply with their ethical and professionalism obligations.”

Uhlfelder’s response, which the Tallahassee Democrat quoted, only made matters worse for him. He told the paper, “I do find it interesting that this opinion attacking my critiques of Gov. DeSantis appeared just two days after I launched a (political) committee to remove Ron DeSantis.”

The following Monday, the court issued another order that directed the State Attorney “to file a motion to discipline Daniel W. Uhlfelder” for the statement he made to the Tallahassee Democrat:

On February 6, 2021, following an order of this court issued February 5, 2021, referring the respondent attorney for possible misconduct to The Florida Bar in Case No. 1D20-1178, the respondent attorney was quoted by the Tallahassee Democrat as stating: “I do find it interesting that this opinion attacking my critiques of Gov. DeSantis appeared just two days after I launched a (political) committee to remove Ron DeSantis[.”]

This statement may violate Rules of Professional Conduct 4-8.2 and 4-8.4; the statement may also violate the Oath of Admission to The Florida Bar, and also may constitute indirect criminal contempt.

A copy of this order has been delivered to The Florida Bar, along with the February 5, 2021, order.

The moral of the story here appears to be that the judges have told Uhlfelder that while he has the right to protest DeSantis’ COVID policies all he wants, the courts aren’t the place for him to play politics. He should know this since he’s an officer of the court.

Whether the guy who alternatively goes between dressing as the Grim Reaper, a shepherd, and a lawyer will heed the warning remains to be seen. How will the Florida Bar respond to the court’s requests for disciplinary action?

But based on his track record from last year, the odds don’t appear to be in Uhlfelder’s favor. We’ll keep tabs on this case and keep you posted on the developments.

— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —


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Maybe Florida and Texas will lead us out of this mess.

    gonzotx in reply to MarkSmith. | February 11, 2021 at 2:07 pm

    Don’t count on Abbott, he’s pretty much a RINO, he wants to play both sides of the Republican Party and get the nomination for Prez in 2024

    Not going to happen

    We are still wearing masks

      mrtoad21 in reply to gonzotx. | February 12, 2021 at 8:23 am

      Abbott doesn’t seem to act until DeStantis or Kristi Noem does first. If I notice, Texas voters are noticing too.

      Katy L. Stamper in reply to gonzotx. | February 12, 2021 at 9:40 am

      Yes, I’ve been wanting to travel to Texas, but the mask requirement discourages me.

      I really want to move back, to west Texas.

I’m sure he doesn’t understand why he is being disciplined. All of his political buddies and heroes get to play political theater in the courtroom (or live on CSPAN with this kangaroo “trial”). Why shouldn’t he?

Hey, loser where’s your science? Yours is Fear is not science that’s superstition.

I’m constantly reminded of an interview with a virologist who said ” it’s impossible to get infected by a virus ‘out in the open'”

    Brave Sir Robbin in reply to Neo. | February 11, 2021 at 12:01 pm

    It’s one reason why “getting outside for some fresh air” is thought to be healthy. During the Spanish Flu pandemic, one of the most effective measures was to have people open up all their windows and get outside as much as possible.

    I have been hiking in the absolute wilderness and seen other people, hiking by themselves, wearing a mask. First time I saw it, I almost fell over laughing. Now such sights are quite common, and I am both astounded and simply saddened.

    These people yammering about “follow the science” are doing no such thing.

OwenKellogg-Engineer | February 11, 2021 at 12:21 pm

This is yet another “Florida Man” story for the archives…..

That’s a fake scythe. A scythe blade has to angle out of plane so that it lies flat on the ground while it’s swept in a circular arc.

CaliforniaJimbo | February 11, 2021 at 12:32 pm

In the study of the worlds largest egos, one must give due diligence to judges. Judges do not like to be told no, do not like to be back talked, and have zero reluctance to jail an obnoxious attorney for contempt if he or she chooses to.
The reaper is gong to reap what he sows. He sows discontent.

Sounds like he needs to undergo psychiatric evaluation.

When will America return to sanity? No, not when they “overreach” in their power grabs. Not at the ballot box…they are stretching a pandemic out to midterms so they can keep their preferred method of fraudulent elections going.
It will stop only when we stop them through threats of violence. Remove this comment if you feel compelled, but fear is the only language they speak.
I feel that America is now a ghetto in Warsaw.

    Katy L. Stamper in reply to scooterjay. | February 12, 2021 at 9:44 am

    I would agree, but Trump demonstrated that different techniques can work quite well.

    What is their weak point? Find it, and press on it! HARD.

Florida , along with all the southern states from Texas, LA, Miss, AL & Georgia will have a spike in covid infections starting in early June lasting through late July. These all being Republican led states. At the same time, democrat led northern states will have infection rates down considerably. Same with Europe. As such, the republican governors will be blamed for the lax mitigation.

How can I make such a bold prediction. Because the infection rate pattern of covid has been following the pattern detailed by Hopes-Simpson which has been well documented since the mid 1980’s. (with the caveat, that the covid vaccine will dampen the expected southern surge).

In sum, Follow the science, not the political science.

Katy L. Stamper | February 12, 2021 at 9:49 am

Allow me to address a point of the author’s:

I sued three superior court judges in Georgia in the early 90s, because they ordered the lawyers in my county, including me, to represent indigent criminals whether we chose to or not.

As a part of the suit, that went to the Georgia Supreme Court, I researched “officer of the court.” This phrase flatters judges but is inaccurate. Due to the combination of self-flattery and ignorance, judges and lawyers use the term often.

The term originates in England. There, they have barristers and lawyers; it’s been thirty years, so I don’t recall which does what, but regardless, in England, the one designated “officer of the court” is quite different that lawyers here.

For example, in England, “officers of the court” were exempt from military service and the like. They had real privileges others lacked.

No corollary in the United States. Giving us burdens without benefits is immoral and I reject this designation completely. I’m an American, the Constitution applies to me regardless of my profession.

Sacandy v. Walther, et al.