TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Gov. Ron DeSantis’ legal battle with Andrew Warren, Tampa’s suspended top prosecutor, made national headlines.
At any moment, a U.S. District Court Judge could issue a ruling in this closely-watched case.
The decision will have a lasting impact.
It’ll determine how much latitude prosecutors have, and how much power the governor has.
On Dec. 1, the trial between Warren and DeSantis came to an end.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle said he would need at least two weeks to render a decision.
Now, we’ve passed week three.
The case is closely watched.
Earlier this year, Stetson Law Professor Paul Boudreaux said the outcome will alter Florida’s legal landscape.
“Andrew Warren has put himself publicly above the law,” said DeSantis on Aug. 4, the day he announced Warren’s suspension.
In an interview with 8 On Your Side, Warren blasted the governor’s move.
“Let me be clear, this isn’t about what I’ve done as state attorney,” Warren said.
It’s become the central issue in this case: A pledge Warren signed in June of 2022.
Florida had just passed a new ban on abortions after 15 weeks.
In the pledge, Warren and other district attorneys nationwide vowed to: “refrain from prosecuting those who seek, provide, or support abortions.”
Here’s what could happen:
If Hinkle believes the pledge is official office policy, a flat-out refusal to uphold the law; then, he may find the governor was justified in suspending Warren for neglect of duty.
But if Hinkle feels the pledge is not office policy, instead, it’s just Warren giving his thoughts on a controversial topic; then, he may find the governor violated Warren’s first amendment rights.
Hinkle said he wanted to hear from the governor.
But before trial, he granted a motion, allowing DeSantis to skip testifying.
8 On Your Side Investigator Mahsa Saeidi questioned the governor just moments after he made the controversial announcement:
“What do you say to people in the community who say you’re taking their vote away?” asked Saeidi.
“Well the conduct that he has done has fallen below the standard that’s required of the Florida constitution,” DeSantis said.
“I have to do this, that’s my job to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed.”
Outside of federal court, Warren also doubled down.
“Can you set the records straight for us? Would you enforce Florida’s 15-week ban on abortions, yes or no?” asked Saeidi.
Look, I’m not going to get into the facts and speculate about what the judge’s intentions were with the questions that he asked,” said Mr. Warren.
“There’s never been a single case brought to my office during the time I’m there concerning an abortion law.”
No matter how the judge rules, each side will have an opportunity to file an appeal with the 11th Circuit.