A civil lawsuit filed by former Florida Department of Health data analyst Rebekah Jones alleging that state law-enforcement agents violated her rights has been moved to federal court.
Attorneys for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement filed notices last week about moving the case from Leon County circuit court to U.S. district court in Tallahassee.
The lawsuit, filed in December, contends that FDLE agents violated Jones’ First Amendment rights and due-process rights and conducted an unlawful search and seizure when they searched her home and hauled away computer equipment on Dec. 7.
Jones has drawn national attention because of her accusations that Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration has manipulated data about the COVID-19 pandemic.
She was fired last year and set up a competing COVID-19 online dashboard to display data about the virus. The FDLE conducted the search after an investigation allegedly linked her home address to a Nov. 10 message sent on an internal Department of Health multi-user account.
“It’s time to speak up before another 17,000 people are dead. You know this is wrong. You don’t have to be part of this. Be a hero. Speak out before it’s too late,” the message from an unidentified sender said.
Jones has contended she did not send the message. She turned herself in last month on an arrest warrant that alleged she “was responsible for unauthorized access and several unauthorized access attempts to FDOH systems.”
The criminal case is separate from the civil lawsuit.