TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Florida judge set an expedited timetable for suspended Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren’s lawsuit against Gov. Ron DeSantis.
According to a release from Warren, both he and Gov. DeSantis agreed to the joint proposal, which would have all paperwork and preliminary injunction hearings completed by Sept. 20. A ruling would be “expected soon afterward”.
Judge Robert Hinkle of the U. S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida approved and signed the scheduling order on Thursday. The order sets a Sept. 2 deadline for DeSantis’ legal time to file a response to the lawsuit, and a Sept. 9 deadline for Warren’s team to reply. Oral arguments are expected to begin in Tallahassee in Sept. 19 or 20.
Warren also said he set up a legal fund to cover expenses related to the case.
“I didn’t exactly have a piggy bank sitting on my dresser labeled, ‘In case Ron DeSantis illegally suspends me.’ Meanwhile, he’s bankrolling his attempt to overturn the will of the voters with your taxpayer dollars,” Warren said. “Everyone knows legal representation costs money, and winning this case is about so much more than my job—it’s about democracy—making it clear that no governor can simply overturn an election because he doesn’t agree with who won.”
The lawsuit claims DeSantis’ suspension violated Warren’s right to free speech under the U.S. Constitution and exceeded DeSantis’ authority as governor under Florida law. It asks a judge to compel the governor to cancel the suspension, put Warren back in office and prohibit the governor from taking similar actions against him in the future.
The Florida Senate paused its investigation into Warren last week. The state constitution details the process and specific reasons the governor can suspend an elected official like Warren. The state senate investigates the suspension and decides whether to remove the official or not. However, under senate rules, the process must be placed on hold while litigation challenging the lawsuit is pending.
According to the scheduling order, if there are no delays, Feb. 23, 2023 will be the discovery deadline. The trial is set to begin on June 5, 2023, but both parties in the lawsuit can agree to move these dates earlier.