- Lawyers for suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren and Gov. Ron DeSantis will meet in court Monday over the First Amendment lawsuit Warren filed against the governor following his removal from office
- The challenge asserts that the executive action authorized by DeSantis to remove Warren from his elected position is an abuse of power and a violation of his First Amendment rights
- Warren received three amicus briefs in his favor from a series of judges, scholars, and state leaders, while DeSantis received one from the Florida Sheriffs Association
- DeSantis month filed for a dismissal of the suit earlier this month, claiming that Warren has no basis in his argument because he took prosecutorial stances
Lawyers for suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren and Gov. Ron DeSantis are set to appear in court on Monday to decide the fate of Warren’s free speech lawsuit filed against the governor.
Warren filed the lawsuit in August just two weeks after his suspension, contending that the executive action is an abuse of power and a violation of his First Amendment rights.
DeSantis’ lawyers, however, claim Warren has no First Amendment rights because he is DeSantis’ employee.
The challenge then goes on to allege that DeSantis’ decision is political payback for signing a petition promising not to prosecute abortion-related cases, also mentioning that Warren has not yet been given an abortion-related case to handle.
“Ron DeSantis is trying to overturn democracy in Florida,” said Warren upon his suspension. “His plot to suspend me violates the most fundamental basis of our democracy: your vote. I’ve been elected twice as state attorney. I was elected because the people of this county share my vision for criminal justice, trust my judgment, and see our success. I swore to uphold the Constitution, and that’s what I’ve done.”
DeSantis accused Warren of incompetence and abandonment of duty when he was dismissed from office on Aug. 4. The governor noted that statements Warren made with prosecutors around the country committing not to arrest those who seek, offer, or support abortions, as well as those who seek, provide, or support gender-affirming health care or transgender persons.
At the time the executive order was filed, the office of the governor stated that he has the authority under the Florida Constitution to suspend state officials for reasons of misfeasance, malfeasance, or neglect of duty.
State leaders and sheriffs stated Warren repeatedly tried to install himself as an arbiter of what laws will and will not be enforced within his jurisdiction.
“State Attorneys have a duty to prosecute crimes as defined in Florida law, not to pick and choose which laws to enforce based on his personal agenda,” DeSantis said. “It is my duty to hold Florida’s elected officials to the highest standards for the people of Florida.”
On Wednesday, each side can file a reply to the amicus briefs or “friend of the court” briefs that have been submitted by outside parties with an interest in the case.
Warren has procured a series of three amicus briefs in his favor including more than 60 judges and prosecutors, a group of 115 legal scholars, and state leaders who approved the section of the Florida Constitution DeSantis cited in ordering the suspension.
The briefs collectively reiterate Warren’s lawsuit, claiming that the suspension is an overreach of governmental authority, abuse of power, and a violation of free speech rights.
Meanwhile, the Florida Sheriffs Association filed a brief in support of DeSantis. The 25-page court filing asserts that the governor was entitled to remove Warren from his positions as a result of his failure to enforce the aforementioned laws.
“In the present case, Warren was not removed for exercising his prosecutorial discretion,” Robert Wayne Evans, an attorney for the Sheriffs Association said, as reported by the Tampa Bay Times. “Rather, he established policies indicating that his office would not prosecute certain classes of crime or that there would be a presumption of non-prosecution for a variety of offenses. These proclamations detrimentally impact a sheriff’s ability to effectively safeguard the public.”
DeSantis filed a motion to dismiss the case in early September and opined in the motion that Warren has no basis for introducing a free speech claim because he was taking official prosecutorial stances in his signed pledges.