Fight over suspended prosecutor headed to trial

Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 5:56 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (News Service of Florida) - A federal judge on Monday refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed by suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren, who is hoping to get his job back. However, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle also rejected Warren’s request to block his suspension by Governor Ron DeSantis, saying the public wouldn’t be served by “yo-yoing” leaders in the prosecutor’s office.

During an hourlong hearing, Hinkle questioned DeSantis’ attorney about whether the governor overstepped his authority by suspending Warren and whether Warren’s “protected” speech rights were violated. Last month, DeSantis issued an executive order suspending the twice-elected prosecutor, accusing Warren of “incompetence and willful defiance of his duties.”

DeSantis 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. Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Warren said the governor does not have the ability to remove elected officials from office over policy differences.

”There is so much more at stake than my job” said Andrew Warren. “This is about making sure that our elections have meaning, making sure that no one, not even the governor, can overturn an election, can silence the vote and voice of the people, or steal their vote.”

Ruling from the bench, Hinkle said DeSantis’ appointed prosecutor, Susan Lopez, will remain the Hillsborough County state attorney for now. A trial date has yet to be scheduled to determine if Warren will be reinstated to his job.

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