Updated Aug 4, 2022 - News

Gov. Ron DeSantis suspends Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren

Side-by-side photos of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and State Attorney Andrew Warren.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and State Attorney Andrew Warren. Photos: Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images; Chris O'Meara/AP Photo

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is suspending Andrew Warren, the twice-elected state attorney for Hillsborough County, for failing to prosecute crimes DeSantis believes he should enforce.

Driving the news: DeSantis announced an executive order declaring that Warren is suspended from public office, effective immediately, at a press conference in Tampa Thursday.

  • The governor appointed Hillsborough County Court judge Susan Lopez to serve as state attorney in the interim.
  • DeSantis said his office is working to remove Warren permanently.

Between the lines: DeSantis accuses Warren of "incompetence and willful defiance as early as June 2021" in the executive order.

  • The order cites Warren's signing of a joint statement with other elected prosecutors β€” like Monique H. Worrell, the state attorney for Orange and Osceola counties β€” condemning laws that criminalize doctors who perform gender-affirming health care.
  • The governor's office also accuses Warren of acting "as law unto himself by instituting a policy ... of presumptive non-enforcement for certain criminal violations," citing his most recent pledge to not press charges against those receiving an abortion or their doctors.

Context: Warren has been state attorney in District 13 since 2017, when he upset longtime Hillsborough State Attorney Mark Ober.

  • This isn't the first time a Florida governor has removed a state's attorney. Former Gov. Rick Scott removed former Orange and Osceola County State Attorney Aramis Ayala as head prosecutor in more than two dozen murder cases after she swore not to seek the death penalty.

What they're saying: "Not enforcing the law, that's a neglect of duty. That, quite frankly, is incompetence by Florida law. Saying you're not going to enforce the law is a dereliction of duty," said DeSantis.

The other side: Warren told Axios after DeSantis' order that his priority is an announcement set for later Thursday on the 1983 cold case murder of Barbara Grams, which Robert DuBoise was wrongfully convicted for and served 37 years in prison.

  • Grams' family has been waiting on this announcement for so long, he said, that they don't deserve to be overshadowed by politics.

Three Republican sheriffs β€” Pasco County's Chris Nocco, Hillsborough County's Chad Chronister and Polk County's Grady Judd β€” joined DeSantis for the announcement Thursday, but none offered specific examples of wrongdoing by Warren.

Worrell's Office didn't immediately respond to Axios' requests for comment.

This is a breaking story. Check back for more updates.

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