Thanks, but no thanks. But nice try. That is what Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is all but saying after dismissing former Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren’s request to be reinstated to his old job.
The U.S. 11th Circuit Court ruled to uphold Gov. DeSantis’s suspension of Warren for neglect of duty and incompetence less than a week ago.
Gov. DeSantis on Aug. 4, 2022, issued an executive order suspending the twice-elected prosecutor, accusing Warren of “incompetence and willful defiance of his duties.”
DeSantis’ order pointed to a letter Warren signed pledging to avoid enforcing a new law preventing abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Also, the governor targeted a statement Warren joined condemning the criminalization of transgender people and gender-affirming care.
In a written statement to The Floridian, DeSantis's Press Secretary Bryan Griffin reaffirmed the Governor’s decision to suspend Warren and added that the ultimate decision of whether or not the embattled former state attorney get his job back, was solely up to the Republican-controlled Florida Senate.
Andrew Warren, of all people, should understand the distinction between legal dicta and the holding of a court’s decision.
The failures that motivated the suspension were Mr. Warren’s actual performance—not advocacy—as a reform prosecutor.
Mr. Warren signed a statement refusing to prosecute the laws of the land. Thus, the governor removed Mr. Warren for neglect of duty and incompetence. Public prosecutors cannot pick and choose which laws to enforce.
In its lengthy opinion, the Court attempted to usurp the Florida Senate’s constitutional authority to make a determination on Mr. Warren’s neglect of duty and incompetence. It is the Florida Senate that is to rightly serve as the ultimate factfinder in this case.
We do not agree with the Court’s dicta, which are merely opinions, and need not address them since the Court ultimately determined it lacked jurisdiction and thus ruled in favor of the governor. Mr. Warren remains suspended from the office he failed to serve.
Saying “the facts do matter,” suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren on Wednesday asked Gov. Ron DeSantis to rescind an executive order that ousted the prosecutor.
DeSantis’ Aug. 4 order accused Warren of “incompetence and willful defiance of his duties.” Warren, a twice-elected Democrat, filed a federal lawsuit seeking to get his job back. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle on Friday ruled that DeSantis’ suspension violated the First Amendment and the Florida Constitution but that the federal court lacked jurisdiction to reinstate Warren.
“The record includes not a hint of misconduct by Mr. Warren,” Hinkle’s 59-page ruling said. In a letter to DeSantis on Wednesday, Warren pointed to the judge’s conclusions and asked for reinstatement so he can serve the nearly two years remaining in his term.
“Duty requires you to accept the court’s findings that the executive order is illegal, even if that finding is perhaps unwelcome,” Warren wrote.
The Columbia Law School graduate noted that, following “exhaustive discovery” and the trial, the governor now has more information than he did when he issued the suspension.
“The facts are now known, and the court’s findings are clear: I engaged in zero misconduct; the allegations in the executive order are false; and the suspension violates federal and state law,” Warren wrote.
If the Florida Senate does take up his case, it will be a very heavy lift for Warren to succeed in a governing body where Republicans hold a super majority and are loyal to DeSantis.
Publisher Javier Manjarres and News Service of Florida contributed to this story.