Aug 5, 2022 - News

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren says he won't leave

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren speaks at a podium.
Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren speaks during a news conference June 15, 2020, in Tampa. Photo: Chris O'Meara/AP Photo

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren is not stepping down, despite an executive order from Gov. Ron DeSantis that attempts to suspend him from his locally elected role as the county's chief prosecutor, citing "neglect of duty" and "incompetence."

  • "I'm still doing this job as the twice-elected state attorney," a defiant Warren said Thursday after a press conference called to discuss the findings in a cold case investigation.

Driving the news: In a theatrical announcement at Falkenburg Road Jail that was harkened by sensational tweets from his media personnel, DeSantis announced Thursday morning that he was suspending Warren, state attorney in District 13 since 2017.

Background: Warren, a Democrat who has run on a progressive platform of fairness and equity, has recently pledged not to prosecute abortion or transgender health care cases.

Details: DeSantis' executive order spells out what he calls "incompetence and willful defiance."

  • The order cites Warren's signing of a joint statement with other elected prosecutors condemning laws that criminalize doctors who perform gender-affirming health care.
  • It also accuses Warren of "presumptive non-enforcement for certain criminal violations," citing Warren's most recent pledge to not press charges against those receiving an abortion or their doctors.

Context: DeSantis said he ordered a state-wide review of prosecutorial conduct after observing how some West Coast cities have been refusing to prosecute criminals according to state law.

Yes, but: DeSantis didn't point to any specific wrongdoing or failure to prosecute, just policy interpretation.

  • "None of those (abortion or transgender health care) cases have been brought to us," Warren said. "When they bring us a case, we'll evaluate the case on the merits."

What he's saying: "The governor is trying to overthrow the result of a free and fair election," said Warren. "If the governor thinks he can do a better job, then he should run for state attorney and not president."

  • Warren later told Dan Abrams he found out he was suspended when an armed sheriff’s deputy showed up at his office to escort him from the building. “I was trying to figure out what country I was in,” he said.

What's next: DeSantis appointed Hillsborough County Court judge Susan Lopez to serve as state attorney, presumably until another election can be scheduled, but Warren's path to appeal is unclear.

  • Under Florida's constitution, a governor can suspend state officials for misfeasance, malfeasance, neglect of duty, drunkenness, incompetence, permanent inability to perform official duties or commission of a felony.
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