Florida Prosecutor Fired by Governor DeSantis Loses Initial Bid for Reinstatement

AP Photo/John Raoux

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis made waves in early August when he relieved State Attorney Andrew Warren of his duties for refusing to enforce Florida laws. Per our initial report:

DeSantis has now followed through and suspended leftist State Attorney Andrew Warren “effective immediately” after Warren had refused to enforce laws passed by the Florida legislature, chief among them, child sex surgeries and abortion restrictions.

“We are suspending Soros-backed 13th circuit state attorney Andrew Warren for neglecting his duties as he pledges not to uphold the laws of the state,” DeSantis’ office said in a statement according to Fox News.

“The constitution of Florida has vested the veto power in the governor, not in state attorneys,” DeSantis said. “We are not going to allow this pathogen of ignoring the law get a foothold in the state of Florida.”

In response, Warren cried foul, but DeSantis showed he wasn’t playing, ordering the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office to assist with the removal of Warren and his personal belongings from the Office of the State Attorney for the 13th Judicial Circuit of Florida.

Warren, in turn, filed suit against DeSantis and sought a preliminary injunction to have him reinstated. On Monday, U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle denied Warren’s request for preliminary injunction — which means his suit will proceed on the merits, but he will not be reinstated at this time.

Per Forbes:

KEY FACTS

  • U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle ruled during a hearing Monday not to grant Warren’s request for a preliminary injunction that would reinstate him as state attorney, local outlets report, but the case is still ongoing.
  • Warren sued DeSantis (R) after the governor suspended him on August 4 and replaced him with his own appointee, accusing Warren of “neglect of duty” and “spit[ting] in the face of voters” because he signed statements saying he wouldn’t prosecute crimes related to abortion or gender-affirming care. 
  • DeSantis argued Warren—who served as the prosecutor in Hillsborough County, including Tampa—was “defy[ing] the Florida legislature” by doing so, even though lawmakers haven’t actually banned abortion before 15 weeks or passed any laws criminalizing gender-affirming care.
  • Warren alleged DeSantis exceeded his authority by suspending him, given that the prosecutor is an elected official and not appointed by the governor, and that DeSantis violated Warren’s First Amendment rights and “silence[d] his critics, promote[d] his loyalists, and subvert[ed] the will of the voters.”
  • Hinkle wanted to “settle the issue ‘once and for all’” through a trial rather than potentially reinstating Warren now only to remove him again later, the Tampa Bay Times reports, and Florida Politics reports the judge “didn’t appear convinced” by the governor’s case, suggesting he could still side with Warren.
  • Warren said in a statement he “look[s] forward” to the case going to trial and to DeSantis “having the opportunity to come into court—where facts and truth matter—and try to justify what he did.”

As indicated, this isn’t the end of the case. It will now proceed on the merits and the fact that the preliminary injunction was denied does not mean the judge will not ultimately rule in Warren’s favor. The trial date has not yet been set.

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