Suspended Florida prosecutor Andrew Warren on Aug. 17 sued the state’s governor, claiming he did not have the power to suspend him.
Warren, the state attorney for the 13th Judicial Circuit, acknowledges Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis may suspend a state officer for reasons including neglect of duty, but argues he shouldn’t have been suspended.
Speaking with reporters in Tampa, Warren called the suspension a “blatant abuse of power.”
He alleges the move by DeSantis was politically motivated. Warren is a Democrat and has traded barbs with DeSantis in the past.
“As a result of Warren’s decision to continue to speak out on issues his constituents elected him to pursue, DeSantis suspended Warren from his elected office and has deprived Warren of the ability to perform his duties, of his income, and of the benefits associated with the job,” the 28-page filing, lodged in federal court in Tallahassee, states.
The suit says Warren’s First Amendment rights have been violated and urges the court to rescind the suspension and bar DeSantis from entering similar orders in the future.
“It’s not surprising Warren, who was suspended for refusing to follow the law, would file a legally baseless lawsuit challenging his suspension. We look forward to responding in court,” a spokesperson for DeSantis told The Epoch Times via email.
Contention Over Policies, Promises
DeSantis suspended Warren on Aug. 4, alleging Warren neglected his duties.
As proof, he cited two joint letters Warren signed. In one, prosecutors said they would not enforce laws that restricted sex change operations for transgender people, including transgender youth. In another, prosecutors said they would not prosecute “those who seek, provide, or support abortions.”
Florida law prohibits abortions beyond 15 weeks, with exceptions.
A state attorney issuing a “blanket refusal” to enforce a law is “tantamount to a ‘functional veto’ of state law,” the order from DeSantis stated, citing a previous court case in New York.
Warren “has put himself publicly above the law,” DeSantis told a press conference.
The move was supported by a number of officials, including Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and Former Tampa Chief of Police Brian Dugan.
DeSantis can suspend prosecutors but there is no legitimate reason to have suspended Warren, the prosecutor’s attorney, J. Cabou of Perkins Coie, told reporters on Wednesday.
“Mr. Warren didn’t do anything that the Florida constitution provides to be basis for his suspension, and in this case, the governor overstepped his authority,” Cabou said.
Warren defended signing the letter vowing not to prosecute abortion-seekers or people performing abortions, saying he was being “wrongly punished” for exercising his First Amendment rights.
At the time of the suspension, Warren said he’d defy the order and keep doing his job. But on Wednesday, he acknowledged he was removed from office by an armed sheriff’s deputy, and replaced.
DeSantis picked Susan Lopez to serve in the position until the Florida Senate decides to make the suspension permanent or rescind it.