Andrew Warren requests expedited court decision in legal battle with DeSantis

by | Jan 16, 2024

Andrew Warren, the suspended State Attorney for Hillsborough County, has sought an expedited resolution in his lawsuit against Gov. Ron DeSantis following a favorable appellate court decision

Andrew Warren, the suspended State Attorney for Hillsborough County, has requested an expedited resolution in his legal battle against Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The request comes after Warren and his legal team received a favorable decision from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which vacated a lower court’s ruling on his suspension. The 11th Circuit, having sent the case back to a lower court on remand, ordered DeSantis to file a response by Wednesday, January 17.

The next step for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals will be to issue a “mandate,“ which officially sends the case back to the District Court. There, the District Court judge will review the Appeals Court’s decision and make a new ruling in the case. Warren’s attorneys have filed a request, asking “for the expedited issuance” of the mandate.

“The urgency is all the greater now because resolution of this case will also impact the next election for State Attorney later this year,” Warren’s attorney wrote in their filing. “This case presents extraordinarily compelling reasons for a rapid resolution.”

The 11th Circuit’s opinion now calls for a reevaluation of whether DeSantis’ decision to suspend Warren would have been the same, absent the consideration of Warren’s First Amendment activities. The court further addressed DeSantis’ argument regarding probable cause for Warren’s suspension, decisively concluding that there never was a probable cause to justify the suspension.

The Eleventh Circuit asserted that Warren, who advocated for various reforms during his tenure, was targeted by DeSantis, suspended via Executive Order, and subsequently replaced with a political ally of the governor.

“The district court erred in concluding that the First Amendment did not protect the activities behind two of the other factors,” the appellate court’s filing reads. “We therefore vacate and remand. On remand, the district court should reconsider whether DeSantis would have made the same decision based solely on the unprotected activities.”

The court’s opinion has secondary effects for DeSantis, as Disney, who the governor waged war against in 2022, is using the 11th Circuit ruling to bolster its own lawsuit against the governor.

In a filing submitted last Thursday as part of its federal lawsuit against DeSantis, Disney referenced the Warren case, arguing that the principles upheld in that decision by the Eleventh Circuit Court are relevant.

The filing suggests that the state’s legislative actions against Disney, particularly after its opposition to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, might constitute a breach of First Amendment rights, drawing a parallel to the Warren case where similar issues were at play.

“Walt Disney Parks and Resorts hereby notifies the Court of the recent decision of the Eleventh Circuit in Warren v. DeSantis, as supplemental authority supporting WDPR’s position in this case,” the filing reads. “According to the Eleventh Circuit, the district court erred in determining that certain of the Governor’s justifications for the suspension fell outside the scope of First Amendment protection … The same values are at stake here.”

In response to Disney’s supplemental filing, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) retorted, stating that the Warren case is not analogous to the case at hand, as first reported by Florida Politics.

“The Eleventh Circuit’s decision in Warren says nothing about foreclosing a retaliation challenge to legislation based solely on the subjective motivations of lawmakers,” the filing reads. “In sum, Warren has no effect on this case.”


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