- Andrew Warren, the suspended Hillsborough County state attorney, announced on Thursday that he filed a lawsuit to challenge his removal
- Gov. Ron DeSantis in August suspended Warren after he pledged not to enforce the state’s recently-passed 15-week abortion law
- Warren claims the suspension is a violation of his First Amendment rights, also alleging that the executive action is a form of political abuse of power
- Upon his suspension, a collective of sheriffs and state leaders claimed that Warren “repeatedly tried to install himself as an arbiter of what laws will be enforced”
Andrew Warren, the prosecutor suspended by Gov. Ron DeSantis, announced on Wednesday that he has filed a lawsuit in federal court to challenge his removal.
DeSantis in early August announced that he is taking executive action to suspend Warren. The governor stated that the suspension is due to a “neglect of duty.”
Notably, DeSantis claimed that Warren pledged not to enforce the state’s recently-passed 15-week abortion law, as well as signing letters stating that he would also not enforce laws prohibiting sex changes for minors.
In the suit, Warren’s legal team requests the presiding judge to compel the Governor to rescind his illegal order, restore Warren to office, and prohibit DeSantis from taking similar illegal actions against Warren in the future.
“Ron DeSantis is trying to overturn democracy in Florida,” said Warren upon his suspension. “His plot to suspend me violates the must 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.”
Warren also contends in the lawsuit, filed in Florida’s North District, that his suspension is an abuse of power and a violation of his First Amendment rights.
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.
“There is so much more at stake here than my job,” said Warren during a Tallahassee press conference Thursday morning. “Ron DeSantis is hoping to get away with overturning a fair election, throwing out the votes of hundreds of thousands of Floridians. By challenging this illegal abuse of power, we’re fighting to make sure no governor can toss out an election because he doesn’t like the winner.”
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 last week. “It is my duty to hold Florida’s elected officials to the highest standards for the people of Florida.”
Warren has received an outpour of support from a variety of Democrat lawmakers and organizations, like the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, who fear that DeSantis exceeded his authority as the state’s governor.
“I’m not going down without a fight,” Warren continued. “I refuse to let this man trample on your freedoms to speak your mind, to make your own health care decisions, and to have your vote count.”
In wake of Warren’s suspension, DeSantis appointed Hillsborough County Judge Susan Lopez to serve as acting state attorney.
Lopez was appointed by the governor to serve as a Hillsborough County judge in 2021, previously serving as the Assistant State Attorney in the 13th Judicial Circuit.