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Florida Supreme Court Bans ‘Vexatious’ Prisoner From Filing Further Pro Se Petitions

by David M. Reutter

On April 13, 2023, the Supreme Court of Florida directed its Clerk to “reject any future pleadings or other requests for relief” submitted by state prisoner Daryl A. Sanders, “unless such filings are signed by a member in good standing of The Florida Bar.”

Sanders is currently serving a sentence after being found in violation of his probation for convictions on multiple offenses. Since 2020, the Court said, he has also “engaged in a vexatious pattern of filing meritless pro se requests for relief in this Court pertaining to a multitude of civil and criminal cases filed by or against him.”

“Including the petition in this case,” the Court noted, “Sanders has filed 21 pro se petitions in this Court.”

Worse, Sanders has also never been granted relief; each of his cases was either denied, dismissed or transferred. The current petition claimed that the Volusia County Jail refused to allow a notary to sign his Determination of Indigency form. While Sanders’ mandamus petition sought an order compelling that action, Sanders’ petition failed to “demonstrate that he possessed a clear legal right to the relief requested, as required by our case law,” the Court said.

So, the Court dismissed the petition and ordered Sanders to show cause why he should not be barred from filing further pro se requests for relief. Sanders responded by stating his petitions did have merit and that he had exhausted every remedy before coming to the Court. That argument was flatly rejected: If it “were true, Sanders would have sought relief in this Court through the normal appellate process rather than through extraordinary writ petitions,” the Supreme Court said.

Sanders expressed remorse and offered to abstain from further filings in the Court unless “legally necessary.” But the Court found Sanders failed to show cause to avoid sanctions for his “abusive conduct” that had wasted “the Court’s limited judicial resources,” adding that it was “not convinced that Sanders will in fact abandon his practice of filing meritless or wholly inappropriate requests for relief.” The Court also noted that it warned Sanders in 2021 that repetitive requests for the same relief would result in sanctions. As that warning had no effect, the Court found sanctions were warranted. See: Sanders v. State, 361 So. 3d 773 (Fla. 2023).

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Related legal case

Sanders v. State