DeSantis suspends State Attorney Monique Worrell for “neglect of duty” and “incompetence”

by | Aug 9, 2023

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Orlando-area State Attorney Monique H. Worrell amid allegations of mishandling criminal cases, sparking mixed reactions.
  • Worrell’s suspension follows criticism of her leniency towards high-profile cases, including the release of a repeat offender who later shot two police officers.
  • Citing “neglect of duty” and “incompetence” as reasons for Worrell’s suspension, the move followed a similar pattern to the suspension of Andrew Warren.
  • DeSantis appointed Judge Andrew Bain as the new state attorney to replace Worrell.

At a Tallahassee press conference early Wednesday morning, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the suspension of Orlando-area State Attorney Monique H. Worrell. The moved sparked instant reactions across the state – and will likely cause some national ripples, too – after months of speculation that DeSantis would make the move.

“The state of Florida is a law and order state,” said DeSantis during the announcement, emphasizing his stance on prioritizing the enforcement of Florida’s criminal laws. To replace Worrell, DeSantis appointed Judge Andrew Bain, an Orlando native and University of Miami alum, as the new state attorney for the ninth judicial circuit court.

Worrell’s suspension follows allegations and criticisms against her handling of several high-profile criminal cases, including her approach towards minimum mandatory sentences for gun crimes, drug trafficking, and other serious offenses. Most recently, she has been under fire due to her office’s perceived leniency towards Daton Viel during a previous criminal case. Viel is the man who was later involved in the shooting of two Orlando police officers.

Worrell was elected in November 2020. Her suspension has led to mixed reactions, with some seeing it as a necessary move for public safety, while others believe it may be politically motivated.

The situation with Daton Viel came to a head last week, when the 28-year-old with a long arrest record – more than 24 separate arrest charges filed against him since 2016 – was arrested for the sexual assault of a minor. Despite his previous criminal history, Viel was released on a bond of $125,250. Months later, he was implicated in the shooting of two Orlando police officers, a situation that drew heavy criticism from the Fraternal Order of Police Orlando and other prominent figures, accusing Worrell of leniency in her prosecution approach.

In her defense, Worrell stated that the bond determination was the court’s responsibility, not hers.

“I don’t determine who gets out of jail. All I do is uphold the law,” she said. Worrell has continually expressed that the blame should rest with the individual perpetrators of crimes and not the legal decisions that preceded them.

The tension between Worrell and local law enforcement leadership, including Orange County Sheriff John Mina, has been evident for months. Discussions about Worrell’s handling of repeat offenders and her office’s policies have been points of contention.

Another case from March 2023 brought Worrell under further scrutiny. After the Pine Hills shootings involving suspect Keith Melvin Moses, Governor DeSantis’s Administration sought details about Moses’s previous criminal background and how Worrell’s office handled his previous charges.

In her responses to such criticisms, Worrell maintained her office’s dedication to upholding the law. She expressed concern about the politicization of tragic events and emphasized the importance of distinguishing between arrests and convictions.

DeSantis’s executive order suspending Worrell runs 15 pages, not including supporting exhibits. In it, DeSantis cites “neglect of duty” and “incompetence” as the basis for Worrell’s suspension. He then goes on to list a range of incidents that support the suspension, including allegations that she “systematically permitted violent offenders, drug traffickers, serious-juvenile offenders, and pedophiles to evade incarceration, when otherwise warranted under Florida law.”

The order also noted that Worrell had established a pattern or practice to avoid minimum mandatory sentences for gun crimes, drug trafficking offenses, allowing juvenile offenders to avoid serious charges and incarceration altogether, avoiding valid or applicable sentencing enhancements, and limiting charges for child pornography.

It is the second time in a year that DeSantis has removed an elected state attorney from office. In August 2022, he suspended Andrew Warren, the top prosecutor in Tampa, who had vowed in a signed statement that he wouldn’t enforce Florida abortion restrictions. Warren challenged his suspension in both federal and state lawsuits, but the courts have ruled against him at both levels. Warren is appealing a federal ruling in the 11th Circuit.


  1. CaptTurbo

    Keep rooting out the weevils!

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  2. Terri

    If DeSantis was concerned about neglect of duty & incompetence, he’d be replacing himself. He’s been too busy campaigning for President to concern himself with Florida’s insurance crisis, the state’s higher than average inflation, or the fact that many affected by hurricane Ian are still fighting to get their homes repaired.

    • Andy

      I wonder about the comments from people who say the governor needs to be concerned with the insurance “crisis”. A special session, a crackdown on scammy contractors/attorneys and new laws limiting insurance liability (the greater the liability, the higher the premiums) isn’t enough. What else do you want him to do? And while you’re at it, please tell us how the governor can lower house prices which is being broadcast as “inflation”. And stop people from moving here, another benchmark for Florida’s inflation. Blue state governors are doing a great job getting rid of residents. What is your advice for the gov to stop the migration?

  3. It’s Complicated

    If you look at the website for the 9th Judicial Circuit State Attorney, the prominent feature just below Ms. Morrell’s oversized pic, is that office’s unit focused upon overturning wrongful convictions. The problem is she/her team have lost sight of getting dangerous people off the streets and has overreacted to the history of the criminal justice system’s dealing with minorities. They should absolutely correct past wrongs, but they need to stop turning violent and dangerous people loose on the citizens of Orange and Oseola Counties, using past injustices as the excuse.

    • Terri

      That may be true, but shouldn’t you leave that decision to the people in the district who vote? It’s a very dangerous and slippery slope when a governor or president starts replacing duly elected officials. Instead of doing this, maybe he should work to change our laws so that voters can recall elected officials. Then it would be back in the hands of voters.

      • It’s Complicated

        Agree that it could be a slippery slope, but in this case they documented and cited acts of nonfeasance (failing to enforce FL Statutes outside the guardrails of ‘prosecutorial discretion’) and misfeasance (misapplying FL Statute and operating outside of Statutory Authority), both which are grounds for suspension. With a State Attorney, public health and safety are at risk.

        In the Tampa District State Attorney suspension, it was FAR less clear, because he signed a pledge to engage in nonfeasance, but had not actually engaged in it, yet, when the Governor suspended him.

        • Deborah Coffey

          This appears completely political and racist. Monique Worrell didn’t let Daton Viel out on a bail; a JUDGE did that. What JUDGE? I’ve been Googling for an hour and can’t find out.

  4. MH/Duuuval

    On a social media post, the Orlando chapter for the Fraternal Order of the Police accused Orange-Osceola State Attorney Monique Worrell for being “soft on crime.”

    At a press conference on Monday, Worrell rejected the allegation and said the court system is responsible for setting bail, not her office.

    “Bond is something that individuals are entitled to as a matter of law. In this case, the court determined that this individual was entitled to a bond. … I don’t determine who gets out of jail. All I do is uphold the law,” she said.

    from the Orlando Sentinel

    [In Florida law enforcement, the tail now wags the dog.]

    • Joe Woke

      What a crock of lies! A careful check of the cases used by Deefascist shows that the court system determined almost all of the issues that were used to excuse her dismissal. You are getting your ass kicked on the presidential trail Deefascist and people are organizing to kick your ass when you run for Governor again. As for the trump chump republifascists who are objecting about immigration have fun paying twice as much for the vegetables cuz there is no one to harvest them. But maybe you can bring some to trump in jail.

  5. It's Complicated

    Read Governor DeSantis’ Executive Order suspending Worrell for yourself. It cites dozens of statutory violations. Much of which involves Worrell ignoring Florida Statutes outside the realm of prosecutorial discretion.

    Is it the State Solicitor General who prosecutes these suspensions in the Florida Senate?

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