Dec 2, 2022 - News

Judge to decide whether to reinstate Hillsborough state attorney

Illustration of a hand in a spotlight holding a gavel out from behind a red curtain.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Final arguments wrapped up Thursday in suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren's case against Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Why it matters: A ruling from U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, expected today, could determine if Warren gets his job back or if DeSantis was within his reach to remove an elected official.

If you haven't been following the trial, here are some of the top points of intrigue:

On Warren's vows: Warren's chief of staff Gary Weisman, who's now serving his replacement, testified Thursday that he told Warren not to sign a pledge saying he wouldn't prosecute abortion crimes, which DeSantis cited in his suspension order.

  • "I thought it was bad for Mr. Warren … and bad for the agency," Weisman said, per the Tampa Bay Times, noting that he interpreted it as official office policy.

Yes, but: One of Warren's top prosecutors testified Tuesday that she didn't interpret the pledges as office policy, while another said she wasn't aware of them until DeSantis removed Warren, per the Times.

On DeSantis' probe: Judge Hinkle questioned the governor's vetting of Warren's performance as state attorney. When public safety adviser Larry Keefe took the stand, he acknowledged that he primarily interviewed Republican law enforcement officials and citizens as part of the review of Warren, a twice-elected Democrat.

  • "You would never conduct an investigation talking to people on just one side of an issue?" Hinkle asked Keefe, per the Florida Phoenix.

On the defense: DeSantis' general counsel, Ryan Newman, testified that he initially didn't think the governor should suspend Warren, Politico reporter Gary Fineout tweeted Thursday, "but came to view Warren’s stance as something that promoted 'lawlessness.'"

  • Fineout also noted that Christina Pushaw, DeSantis' former press secretary, showed up to testify, but the governor's lawyers didn't put her on the stand.

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