TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Suspended State Attorney Andrew Warren’s lawsuit against Gov. Ron DeSantis didn’t help him get his job back.
U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle ruled DeSantis violated Florida’s Constitution when he suspended Warren last year, but declined to reinstate him citing jurisdictional issues. However, the judge said the governor was able to restore Warren to office.
“If the facts matter, the Governor can simply rescind the suspension. If he does not do so, it will be doubly clear that the alleged non-prosecution policies were not the real motivation for the suspension,” Hinkle wrote in the order.
DeSantis suspended Warren from Florida’s 13th Judicial Circuit in August, accusing him of neglect of duty after Warren said he would not enforce a new 15-week abortion law or prosecute providers of gender transition treatment for young people.
WFLA obtained a copy of a letter sent by the top attorney to DeSantis Friday to request his reinstatement.
In the letter, Warren said the court gave the other party enough time to prove that he did something wrong or was unable to perform the duties of his job. He noted that the judge’s order “emphatically stated” he had, in fact, performed his duties “without a hint of misconduct,” and that his suspension had violated state law.
The letter cites statements in DeSantis’ executive order for his suspension, which Warren and the federal judge said were false. Warren asked DeSantis to reinstate him and uphold his oath of office to “execute Florida law faithfully.”
“I respectfully request that you voluntarily reinstate me as Hillsborough County’s duly elected state attorney for the remainder of my four-year term without further delay,” Warren wrote. “Faithful execution of the law depends on faithful recognition of the facts. And a nonpartisan finder of fact has found the allegations within Executive Order #22-176 to be inaccurate.”
Shortly after the judge’s ruling in the Warren v. DeSantis case, newly elected U.S. Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.) urged state lawmakers to hold the governor accountable for the suspension.
Frost released a statement to the Florida Senate, saying that the judge had made it clear DeSantis had “violated not only the Florida Constitution but Warren’s First Amendment rights,” and said the Republican-controlled Senate should act, though he noted the partisan divide was a “hurdle.”
Warren’s letter to DeSantis was accompanied by a brief statement, asking him to restore Warren to office and do the right thing.
“When the governor and I were sworn in, we both put our hands on the Bible and swore to uphold the laws of Florida and the United States,” Warren said in a statement. “Now a federal judge has ruled that I did my part, and that the governor broke his oath. This is the opportunity for the governor to do the right thing and show that his oath to uphold the law wasn’t just empty words.”
In response to request for comment, and Warren’s letter asking for reinstatement, Press Sec. Bryan Griffin provided the following response on behalf of Gov. DeSantis.
Andrew Warren, of all people, should understand the distinction between legal dicta and the holding of a court’s decision.
The failures that motivated the suspension were Mr. Warren’s actual performance—not advocacy—as a reform prosecutor.
Mr. Warren signed a statement refusing to prosecute the laws of the land. Thus, the governor removed Mr. Warren for neglect of duty and incompetence. Public prosecutors cannot pick and choose which laws to enforce.
In its lengthy opinion, the Court attempted to usurp the Florida Senate’s constitutional authority to make a determination on Mr. Warren’s neglect of duty and incompetence. It is the Florida Senate that is to rightly serve as the ultimate factfinder in this case.
We do not agree with the Court’s dicta, which are merely opinions, and need not address them since the Court ultimately determined it lacked jurisdiction and thus ruled in favor of the governor. Mr. Warren remains suspended from the office he failed to serve.Statement from Florida Governor’s Office