Sep 6, 2022 - News

Ron DeSantis asks a judge to dismiss Andrew Warren's looming lawsuit

Andrew Warren stands at a podium with a sign reading "Andrew Warren legal fund"
Suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren holds a press conference Aug. 17. Photo: Octavio Jones/Getty Images

Oral arguments in ousted Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren's lawsuit against Gov. Ron DeSantis are less than two weeks away, so let's catch up on the power plays.

Flashback: On Aug. 4, DeSantis announced he was suspending the twice-elected state attorney for his progressive policies, specifically for statements that he wouldn't criminalize gender-affirming health care or prosecute those who seek, provide or support abortions.

  • An armed guard escorted a surprised Warren from his office.
  • Warren later sued in federal court, claiming DeSantis overstepped his authority and reversed the will of the voters.

The latest: DeSantis on Friday asked a judge to dismiss Warren's lawsuit on the grounds that Warren's speech as a government official is not protected by the First Amendment.

  • And if the court finds that Warren was speaking personally and the speech is protected, DeSantis' motion argues, "his public refusals to enforce Florida law are still not protected."
  • It also argues against federal court "intervention," saying the whole thing is a matter to be handled by the state.

The other side: "This is a poor defense of an indefensible abuse of power," Warren wrote in a statement emailed to Axios. "The fact that taxpayers continue to foot the bill for this makes it even more shameful."

Of note: Warren's corner is packed with legal heavyweights who filed a friend-of-the-court brief on Aug. 26, arguing that DeSantis' order "erodes confidence in the administration of justice."

  • More than 60 people β€” including three retired Florida Supreme Court justices, former 2nd District Court of Appeal Judge E.J. Salcines and former Hillsborough Chief Judge Manuel Menendez Jr. β€” signed the brief that argues prosecutors have discretion and independent judgment and must use their limited resources judiciously.

What's next: Oral arguments are scheduled for Sept. 19 before Senior U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle, who was nominated to the judiciary by Bill Clinton.

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