TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The legal showdown between suspended Hillsborough County state attorney Andrew Warren and Gov. Ron DeSantis headed to court in Tallahassee Tuesday.
“We’re excited to finally have our day in court,” Warren said Monday. “We want Floridians to hear about the reasons for the suspension and why it was illegal so that I can get back to doing the work that I was elected to do.”
The governor removed Warren from office in August.
“Governor DeSantis suspended State Attorney Andrew Warren of the 13th Judicial Circuit due to his neglect of duty and incompetence. We maintain that the governor has the authority to suspend a state officer,” DeSantis’ press secretary Bryan Griffin said in a statement on Monday.
“We had a fellow in Tampa who said he was going to ignore laws he didn’t like so I removed him from office,” DeSantis said at a rally after the suspension was announced.
The Florida Constitution is at the center of each party’s arguments, according to Attorney Bryant Camareno.
“It clearly does give the governor the power to remove people from office, absolutely. What is an issue, again, what’s unusual is that it’s not really clear from the statute or the constitution is whether or not under these circumstances that power can apply,” Camareno said.
Camareno said he was surprised a judge recently ruled DeSantis won’t have to testify in opening arguments.
“I would have thought a judge would have the power to compel the problem does become though, you know, at what point the governor decides to exercise some sort of executive privilege,” he said.
Court proceedings in the case started Tuesday morning and are expected to last several days.
Camareno said it could be a while before we know the outcome.
“Depending on who wins or loses, I guarantee they will appeal it to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and then that will take some time,” he added.
Speaking outside the courthouse on Tuesday, Warren said, “It’s been 117 days since the governor suspended democracy and we are excited to finally have our day in court. A trial is a search for truth and in this building, the truth matters.
Warren told members of the press the suit represented “so much more” than his job.
“We’re not just fighting for me to do the job I was elected to do, we’re fighting for the rights of voters across Florida to have the elected officials of their choice,” he said. “We’re fighting for free speech, for the integrity of our elections, and for the very values of our democracy.”
Warren took the opportunity to thank his supporters amid the ongoing court battle.
“I want to thank everybody who has stood with me for the past four months. Words cannot adequately express how grateful I am for everybody’s support and their patriotism,” he said.