The state prosecutor suspended by Gov. Ron DeSantis will remain out of office, federal judge has ruled
Florida – On Monday, a federal judge in Florida ordered that a state prosecutor who had been suspended by Governor Ron DeSantis must remain out of office while his lawsuit against the Republican governor proceeds through to the trial phase.
A motion to reinstate Andrew Warren as state attorney of Hillsborough County was denied by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle while the lawsuit is still ongoing. Instead, the judge told the attorneys that he would rather have a full trial over the suspension complete with evidence and testimony and that he would prefer to have that trial.
Last month, DeSantis suspended Warren for signing statements that said he would not pursue criminal charges against people who seek or provide abortions or gender transition treatments, as well as policies about not bringing charges for certain low-level crimes. The statements that Warren signed said he would not pursue criminal charges against people seeking or providing abortions or gender transition treatments.
Following his dismissal from office, Warren immediately filed a lawsuit against the governor, claiming his right to free expression had been violated. Hillsborough County, which contains Tampa, chose Warren, a Democrat, to serve as their state attorney in 2016 and again in 2020. These elections took place in Hillsborough County.
After the hearing in the federal court in Tallahassee, Warren addressed the media with the following statement: “Today is a crucial day in an important struggle for democracy — our democracy.” “I’ve spent the most of my professional life in the role of a prosecutor, where I advocate for victims in court. As a plaintiff, I went to court today to fight for democracy itself.
Monday’s hearing lasted for close to two hours, and during that time, Hinkle questioned government lawyers about whether or not Warren’s signing of statements on abortion and transgender rights would be protected by the First Amendment, or whether or not they were defined policies that could warrant his removal from office. Hinkle’s questions focused on whether or not the statements constituted policies that could warrant Warren’s removal from office.
Henry C. Whitaker, the state’s Solicitor General, argued to the judge that Andrew Warren does not have a right under the First Amendment to proclaim that he is not going to do his job.
In an executive order that formally suspended Warren from her position, DeSantis put a lot of emphasis on the fact that Warren had signed statements saying she would not prosecute offenses involving gender transition therapies or abortions. More than ninety state attorneys general, district attorneys, and other elected prosecutors from around the United States have signed a letter stating that they do not intend to arrest persons for seeking abortions, performing abortions, or supporting abortions.
The new abortion limitation for the state of Florida went into force on July 1. It makes exceptions for situations in which an abortion is essential to preserve the life of the pregnant woman, avoid significant damage, or if the fetus has a fatal defect; otherwise, it bans abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy. It does not permit exemptions in circumstances where pregnancies were produced by rape, incest, or the trafficking of humans. [Cases like these]
Those who break the law risk spending up to five years behind bars. For each infraction, medical practitioners and other medical professionals risk having their licenses revoked in addition to paying administrative fines of $10,000.
Warren stated that his office has not received any cases involving abortion for the purpose of prosecution. “These statements prove that Warren thinks he has the authority to defy the Florida Legislature and nullify in his jurisdiction criminal laws with which he disagrees,” the executive order from DeSantis reads. Although the state of Florida has not enacted laws that criminalize gender transition treatments for minors, “these statements prove that Warren thinks he has the authority to defy the Florida Legislature.”
DeSantis also brought up Warren’s policy of not prosecuting certain less serious types of criminal activity, such as “trespassing at a commercial place,” “disorderly conduct,” “disorderly intoxication,” and “prostitution.” Some progressives elected in various parts of the country in recent years have used prosecutorial discretion in a manner that is comparable to what has provoked some backlash.
There has been no decision made regarding when Warren’s lawsuit against DeSantis will go to trial.