That was determined by a federal judge Florida Governor Ron DeSantis unconstitutionally suspended an elected state attorney who criticized the governor’s stance on abortion and transgender health care, but a judge said he had no authority to reinstate the prosecutor.
U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle said the governor falsely accused Hillsborough’s state attorney Andrew Warren rely on general policy to avoid prosecution of some cases with which he disagreed.
“The accusation was false,” he wrote in the ruling issued on January 20. “Mr. Warren’s well-established policy, followed in every case by every prosecutor in the office, was to have prosecutorial discretion at every stage of every case. Any reasonable investigation would bear this out.’
Mr. Warren was among them more than 100 prosecutors and officials from across the US who have vowed not to prosecute abortion providers and abortion patients after the US Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the constitutional right to abortion on June 24 of last year. Florida’s anti-abortion law prohibits the procedure at 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Neither does the Tampa District Attorney signed another pledge use “discretion and not promote the criminalization of gender-affirming health care services or transgender people,” as the DeSantis administration pursued its anti-LGBT+ agenda.
U press conference Surrounded by law enforcement on August 4, 2020, the governor accused Mr. Warren of failing to prosecute those accused of crimes to the full extent of his authority, reflecting what the governor called “incompetence and willful defiance of his duties “.
Mr. Warren later accused Mr. DeSantis for violating the state constitution and “dismissing the results of a free and fair election” by unfairly removing him from office without legal justification. Mr. Warren was elected to office in 2016 and re-elected in 2020.
But Judge Hinkle concluded that the US Constitution barred a federal court from reinstating Mr. Warren.
The judge rejected Mr. Warren’s arguments that the governor’s actions violated the First Amendment’s free speech protections, requiring judicial intervention, but he emphasized that Mr. Warren’s statements were indeed protected speech and Mr. DeSantis “in any case would have made the same decision even without considering these things.’
“The First Amendment violations were not material to the outcome and therefore do not entitle Mr. Warren to relief in this case,” Judge Hinkle wrote. “The suspension also violated the Florida Constitution, and that violation did affect the outcome. But the 11th Amendment prohibits a federal court from granting declaratory or injunctive relief against a public official based solely on a violation of state law.”
The governor appointed Susan Lopez, who the governor appointed as a judge late last year, to take over Mr. Warren’s role.
Judge Hinkle’s ruling found that Mr. Warren’s record “does not contain a hint of misconduct” and that he “has performed diligently and competently the job he was elected to do, substantially as he told voters he would do it.” perform”.
The judge noted that “when the dust settled” after his ouster, including media events, favorable coverage of the governor on Fox News and an appearance on Tucker Carlson’s program, Mr. DeSantis’ office received “2.4 million in free media coverage dollars in 14 days”. “.
His ruling came after a three-day trial in November that included testimony from members of the governor’s administration. When he announced Mr. Warren’s ouster, the governor accused him of promoting a “basically woke” agenda that elevates his “own personal concept of, quote, ‘social justice’ over what the law requires you to do.”
The draft resolution on his suspension also reportedly contained references to George Soros court documents and testimony in court.
The Independent reached out to Mr. Warren for comment.
DeSantis spokesman Taryn Finske said The judge’s ruling upheld “the governor’s decision to remove Andrew Warren from office for dereliction of duty and incompetence.”
“A win for the governor and a win for the people of Florida,” DeSantis spokesman Brian Griffin added.