TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – As Andrew Warren fights in federal court to get his state attorney job back in Hillsborough County, the Florida Sheriffs Association is coming to the defense of Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Local sheriffs stood by the governor as he effectively removed Warren from office on Aug. 4.
“The governor’s suspension of State Attorney Warren is not political to me,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said at the governor’s press conference. “It’s about law and order.”
The FSA filed a brief Tuesday in federal court that supports the governor’s suspension of the twice-elected state attorney.
“The sheriffs have a First Amendment right to speak out on this issue just as I have a First Amendment right to speak out on the governor’s extreme abortion ban,” Warren said.
The FSA’s filing argues that the First Amendment does not protect Warren’s statements on abortion and transgender health care.
“This is not a case of prosecutorial discretion,” the FSA’s attorney writes in the amicus brief. “Rather, this is a case where a state attorney abused his authority by establishing policies that directly impeded a sheriff’s ability to enforce the criminal laws of this state.”
The filing mentions Warren’s policy of not prosecuting all charges that arise from bicycle and pedestrian stops.
“The bike stop policy is something we worked with Tampa police on to move away from the discriminatory policy of biking while black,” Warren said. “We’re talking about a policy that affects some 40 cases per year that had exceptions for when it warranted prosecution.”
DeSantis said Warren’s suspension is justified because local elected officials can’t pick and chose which laws to enforce.
“I have to do this. That’s my job to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed,” DeSantis said.
Warren pointed out there are examples of Florida sheriffs pledging to ignore proposed state laws and defying county ordinances.
“There have been sheriffs who said they wouldn’t enforce an assault weapons ban,” Warren said. “Sheriffs who said they wouldn’t enforce an assault weapons registry and sheriffs who talked about they wouldn’t enforce evictions or mask mandates during covid.”
The governor on Friday responded to Warren’s lawsuit with a motion to dismiss.
The state attorney he appointed to replace Warren, Susan Lopez, has ended his bike stop policy.
Warren told News Channel 8 that he’ll be in the federal courtroom in Tallahassee on Sept. 19 for arguments before Judge Robert Hinkle.