Former Governor Mike Huckabee has Filed a Bar Complaint Against Florida Lawyer in Twitter Dispute
According to reporting from The Daily Beast, Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas Governor and presidential candidate, has filed a bar complaint against a Florida attorney over a tweet. The complaint—which can be accessed online—alleges that a Santa Rosa Beach, FL lawyer violated professional rules of conduct by sending a disparaging tweet.
For his part, the lawyer in question, Daniel Uhlfelder, denies any wrongdoing in relation to the case. Among other things, he notes that he is well within his First Amendment rights criticize the public figure and former politician. His representatives are asking the Florida Bar to dismiss the complaint without action.
The Bar Complaint Alleges Social Media “Harassment”
The key allegation in the complaint is that the Florida attorney made disparaging comments about Mr. Huckabee on Twitter, including referring to him as “beach thief”. The specific comment is relevant because Mr. Huckabee and Mr. Uhlfelder are both active parties to litigation over property rights in Walton County, Florida. A trust controlled by Mr. Huckabee owns beachfront property along the Gulf of Mexico. The attorney is representing an organization that seeks to preserve beach access for members of the public. Governor Huckabee contends that referring to him as a “beach thief” on a public platform is against professional rules of conduct.
Florida Bar: Personal Profiles vs. Professional Profiles
Social media is still a relatively new phenomenon—especially for professionals in law, finance, and other specialized fields. Indeed, it was only in 2013 that the Florida Bar Association rolled out its first set of truly comprehensive rules and regulations regarding social media use by legal professionals.
One of the key distinctions made within these rules is that personal profiles of attorneys in Florida are not technically subject to scrutiny by the Florida Bar Association. In contrast, professional profiles are governed by Florida’s rules of conduct.
However, that distinction is relatively difficult to make in practice. Under the Florida Bar Association’s rules, an attorney’s social media profile is considered to be a “professional” profile—meaning it is governed by rules of conduct—if there is any mention or links to legal practice. In fact, even stating that you are a practicing attorney in your profile could be sufficient to make that profile governed by the Florida Bar ethics rules.
The implication: It is generally best to assume that your social media profile, even if only for personal use, is governed by the Florida Bar’s rules of professional conduct. It is a best practice to avoid posting anything on social media that you are not comfortable having associated with your career.
Get Help From Our Florida Bar Complaint Lawyer Today
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our West Palm Beach bar complaints & grievances attorneys we have a deep understanding of the state’s bar complaint and grievance process. We will protect your rights and professional interests. To get a confidential, no obligation consultation with an experienced attorney, please call us today. From our office locations in West Palm Beach and Miami, we serve clients throughout South Florida, including in Hialeah, Port St. Lucie, Pembroke Pines, Hollywood, Miramar, and Coral Springs.