Prosecutor suspended by DeSantis asks court to reinstate him

An elected Florida attorney who says he was suspended by Governor Ron DeSantis for political gain – and because he is a Democrat – is asking the state Supreme Court to reinstate him, citing a federal judge’s ruling that DeSantis violated state law and his rights. of the First Amendment. .

Andrew Warren, a twice-elected state’s attorney for Hillsborough County, filed the appeal on Wednesday. This comes a month after a federal judge in Tallahassee threw out his lawsuit on technical grounds, although he agreed with Warren that the Republican governor improperly fired him.

“We are asking the Florida Supreme Court to uphold this decision and direct the Governor to follow the law and reinstate me to office. We ask them to reiterate that no one is above the law – not even the governor,” Warren said in a statement. He is also asking a federal appeals court to reinstate it.

The governor has refused to reinstate the Tampa prosecutor, and his press office did not immediately respond Thursday to an email and phone call seeking comment on the latest appeal.

No hearing date has been set. DeSantis appointed four of the seven justices to the Florida Supreme Court, with the other three appointed by their Republican predecessors.

Warren can also appeal his suspension to the Florida Senate, where Republicans hold a 28-12 lead.

Warren is citing last month’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, who said that while federal law prevents him from returning Warren to office through a lawsuit centered on state law, he agreed that DeSantis’ actions violated Warren’s First Amendment rights and the Florida Constitution. .

Hinkle, who was appointed by Democratic President Bill Clinton, said the evidence showed DeSantis had no basis for deeming Warren incompetent or negligent in his duties, the two reasons cited for the suspension.

Instead, DeSantis targeted Warren because he is a Democrat who has publicly supported abortion and transgender rights and because doing so would benefit him politically, Hinkle wrote. DeSantis is widely expected to run for president next year.

Hinkle asked DeSantis to voluntarily reinstate Warren “if the facts mattered” to him. He said the governor and his staff never did a serious investigation of Warren before suspending him and ignored the facts that argued against his dismissal.

The governor charged Warren with incompetence and dereliction of duty, arguing that the district attorney was choosing which laws to apply, citing in his executive order the non-prosecution of crimes such as “invasion of a business establishment, disorderly conduct, disorderly intoxication and prostitution.”

DeSantis’ executive order also cited Warren’s endorsement of statements by prosecutors across the country, pledging not to bring criminal charges against people who seek, provide or support access to abortion – and opposed the criminalization of gender transition treatments.

None of those cases were referred to Warren, who said the prosecutor’s discretion about which cases to pursue and which to shelve is a normal part of the job.

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