Joe Henderson: Andrew Warren learns the cost of defying Ron DeSantis

andrew warren
The Governor suspended the Hillsborough State Attorney for saying he wouldn't prosecute abortion cases.

Andrew Warren has routinely displayed an independent streak since becoming Tampa’s 13th Judicial Circuit State Attorney in 2016. While many might consider that refreshing, it’s a liability when Ron DeSantis is (sort of) your boss.

The Governor suffers no dissent, especially in an election year, and there are consequences for anyone who forgets that. Warren found that out emphatically Thursday when DeSantis announced he was suspending Warren from office for “neglect of duty.”

Warren had to know he was in DeSantis’ crosshairs. After the U.S. Supreme Court sacked Roe v. Wade and gave the decision on abortion law to the states, Warren spoke out.

He said he wouldn’t press charges against women who received an abortion or her doctor. Florida banned abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

“The 15-week ban, which criminalizes in certain circumstances, private medical decisions made between a woman and her doctor does not protect public safety,” Warren said in late June. “What it’s doing is arbitrarily choosing the moment in which the state is taking away our freedom, making a crime for a woman to do what’s best for her family and for doctors and nurses to do what’s best for their patients.”

Given DeSantis’ “my way or else” stance, Warren probably could have started cleaning out his desk then. Warren may have made himself a hero to abortion rights advocates, but he also became a target.

“State Attorneys have a duty to prosecute crimes as defined in Florida law, not to pick and choose which laws to enforce based on his personal agenda,” DeSantis said Thursday. “It is my duty to hold Florida’s elected officials to the highest standards for the people of Florida.”

DeSantis has the only “personal agenda” that matters in this administration.

Whether you believe Warren is right or not, DeSantis is within his right to take this action. It’s not up to any State Attorney to decide that Florida’s abortion law is Draconian and cruel (which it is). That’s the court’s job, which are the rules we live by.

Warren was probably on a watch list long before this though.

After the riots throughout Florida following George Floyd’s death in 2020, Warren flashed some more independence. He dropped charges against 67 protestors in Tampa following their arrests for unlawful assembly.

I’ve said many times that criminal justice reform involves looking at each case as a problem to solve, not just a person to be punished,” Warren said then.

“In these unlawful assembly cases, there is no value in filing charges. Prosecuting people for exercising their First Amendment rights creates problems rather than solving them. It can weaken the bonds between law enforcement and the community while undermining faith in our system.”

DeSantis, of course, pushed for a strict “anti-riot” law allowing even peaceful protestors to face arrest if the police decided to do so. A federal judge has ruled it unconstitutional, and the state is appealing.

With his gubernatorial election campaign in full swing and a possible 2024 presidential bid at stake, DeSantis wants that “law and order” label.

Check the boxes: Tough on crime (any crime), no negotiation on abortion or transgender rights, yadda yadda yadda.

There is no room in the Governor’s world for the kind of measured nuance Warren brought to the job.

So, Warren is out, and although he can appeal, he probably won’t win.

That’s the risk one takes when they defy DeSantis.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


27 comments

  • Paul Paduano

    August 4, 2022 at 7:42 pm

    Warren didn’t defy the Governor, he defied the law! I guess Joe Henderson doesn’t believe in complying with the laws.

    Reply

    • Paul Katz

      August 5, 2022 at 12:14 pm

      It is noteworthy the latest ruling from the Florida Courts on the matter is that the 15-week abortion ban is Unconstitutional.

      https://www.cnn.com/2022/06/30/politics/florida-abortion-law/index.html

      While the injunction against the Law was stayed pending appeal, I think it is VERY ARGUABLE a prosecutor would elect discretion enforcing a Law a judge has found to be unlawful.
      In short, Desantis suspended Warren for not wanting to enforce a Law that is VERY LIKELY unconstitutional. Not the hill I’d die on.

      Reply

  • PeterH

    August 4, 2022 at 7:47 pm

    It might be different if Attorney Andrew Warren had actually been involved in a single abortion decision that challenged Florida’s 15 week ban.

    Of course DeSantis once again is making a case for a problem that does not exist. I feel a lawsuit in the works and like many other DeSantis court failures….. the Florida taxpayer picks up the court cost and lawsuit for DeSantis’s imaginary problem.

    This is about DeSantis’s magical thinking that he’s creating freedom…..but what really transpires is: The Ron DeSantis FREEDUMB State of Florida.

    Reply

  • Ron Ogden

    August 4, 2022 at 8:00 pm

    “Prosecuting people for exercising their First Amendment rights creates problems rather than solving them.”
    No one has a First Amendment right to torch somebody’s business. That Warren could make such an argument shows he let tortuous, politically motivated rational take the place of common sense–a bad thing in a prosecutor. Glad DeSantis determined to act in defense of the laws the legislature passed and he signed.

    Reply

  • Tom

    August 4, 2022 at 8:26 pm

    It’s the Florida Constitution Joe. Not the Gov Joe. Warren is defiant and placing people’s lives at risk. Remove them all, don’t stop!

    DeSantis will get 60% of the vote. He will top Bob Graham Senate total vs you and Peter’s guy, chameleon crisp. It’s over but the Soros Manchurian shouting!

    Reply

    • Elliott Offen

      August 4, 2022 at 10:15 pm

      ^ Vote RED for forced birth of meth babies and crack babies like this guy…

      Reply

  • Elizabeth

    August 4, 2022 at 8:31 pm

    It’s not defying DeSantis. He defied the lawful people of Florida, the Florida legislature and the Florida Constitution. Leave it to a leftist like Henderson so spin it the wrong way.

    Reply

  • Elizabeth

    August 4, 2022 at 8:32 pm

    It’s not defying DeSantis. He defied the lawful people of Florida, the Florida legislature and the Florida Constitution. Leave it to a leftist like Henderson to spin it the wrong way.

    Reply

  • Tom Palmer

    August 4, 2022 at 9:43 pm

    DeSantis dictatorship continues. Nothing to see here

    Reply

  • Elliott Offen

    August 4, 2022 at 10:14 pm

    Mini Hitler scores another win for the hogs, the redneck rich, and the half dead Tea Party mummies. Go rich people! Vote RED for forced birth of meth babies and crack babies who can one day be exploited on Republican low wage slave plantations!

    Reply

    • Freedom4524

      August 4, 2022 at 11:37 pm

      Go back to New York

      Reply

  • Mickey Dee

    August 4, 2022 at 11:26 pm

    He did not defy any man who called himself a Florida governor. He had no case in front of him whereby the governor could say he actually did anything with respect to that law. There is no merit to this suspension and the governor knows it. Its all political and will be overturned. If anything, Warren is standing up for all the women and young teenage girls that live in his county to make sure their rights aren’t being trampled on. o

    Reply

    • Y.T. Gurle

      August 5, 2022 at 8:10 am

      “Warren is standing up for all the women and young teenage girls that live in his county to make sure their rights aren’t being trampled on.”
      No one has a right to kill a child.
      Or, if you want to posit that the mother has that right then why not the father? Should we let men make decisions about the fates of millions of unborn babies? No? Then why is that alleged right reserved for women? Why does it matter what gender? Why, I thought in liberal la-la land EVERYONE WAS EQUAL in all regards. No?

      Reply

      • Mickey Dee

        August 5, 2022 at 12:01 pm

        That’s the same disingenuous slight of hand embarrassing lie of an argument you guys try to make. A young women or any women can become pregnant via a drop of sperm… a leak… from someone she doesn’t know, someone she barely knows or someone she has no e intentions of being connected to all of their lives, or by someone who has raped them, , someone she’s not ready to have a child with for the rest of their lives…. the list is long. Not to mention, in some cases its not even healthy for the woman to have a baby. People die in child birth. then, if the mother s poor, are you going to raise the kid? No you’re not. A woman is a human being. A human being has every right to determine their own health care which included whether or not they medically have a child . They have every right to determine of they want their bodies and their lives to be forever changed based on something so random and many times not at all wanted or planned and in some cases a result of a violent act. You must hate women, You can care less about life. You do not care one iota about the life of that women or the quality of life of a child. All you care about is suggesting you are morally superior because deep in dark places you don’t want anyone to know about , you are guilty of things you believe only you and the devil knows about. Yes, I know what you did that night when you thought no one was watching. I saw you.

        Reply

      • marylou

        August 5, 2022 at 3:07 pm

        Abortions are self defense issues.

        Embryos and fetuses endanger women’s lives. Men are allowed to defend themselves. Stand Your Ground rights should be for women, too.

        Reply

  • Freedom4524

    August 4, 2022 at 11:55 pm

    A Soros backed attorney does have the right to make laws, not enforce them. This Soros attorney had a pastor arrested, (and then quoted the bible to defend his actions), refused to prosecute violent BLM rioters, and refused to prosecute a gang member who shot into a house with children inside – after shooting someone else.
    Wake up Florida – we will turn into San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City and chop zone Portland (with over 66,000 homeless Los Angeles in 2020 – it’s more now). Who gets to draw the line? The voters – not you, you slimy Soros attorney. Maybe he could run against our current Vice President Joe Biden, since Biden just stated today he is our Vice President, but he’s not allowed to drive.

    Reply

    • marylou

      August 5, 2022 at 4:02 pm

      “The voters – not you”
      You mean: The Voters–not deSantis
      The VOTERS elected Warren–twice. He is doing a great job. Unlike deSantis, Warren is serving the people, not himself, which infuriates Tiny Tyrant.
      deSantis is overruling the people’s will, and installing a sycophant who will follow his orders, which is not the American Way. Prosecutors use their prosecutorial discretion all the time. Eventually many of them will recognize that Abortion is a Stand your Ground issue.

      Reply

      • steve

        August 5, 2022 at 7:32 pm

        A fetus falls within the same status as a home invasion robber under stand your ground laws? You’re insane.

        Who could be so clueless as to compare an innocent fetus to a violent felon?

        Reply

  • Phil Morton

    August 5, 2022 at 2:41 am

    Andrew Warren is a good human being and a great State Attorney. Ron DeSantis is just a big bully who whines when he doesn’t get his way.

    Reply

  • Beth

    August 5, 2022 at 3:23 am

    Anyone with any degree of intelligence realizes that DeSantis is nothing but a traitor and a dictator who seeks to destroy anyone who does not adhere to his radicalized evangelical agenda designed for him to collect as much money as possible. His criminal acts make him a clear and present danger to our democracy and he needs to be removed from office. As he is exactly like trump I fear for who he will try to kill when he loses in November. Time for sane, intelligent Americans to rise up and end roly poly hitler’s reign of self serving corruption. Vote him out.

    Reply

  • Tom

    August 5, 2022 at 7:20 am

    Wah, Wah and Wah! Cry me a River!

    It’s the economy stupid!
    It’s the Florida constitution stupid.
    For 20 months I called out you Soros Manchurians! Thanks to Gov Kahones, America’s Gov, the greatest Gov in America, Soros Manchurian nation is being taken out, it’s over you Manchurians. Wah, Wah! All of you above, peter h, Beth, Mickey, Morton, and or yes you losers!

    I am the FP legend, you will not stand before the light. God bless America’s Gov, his family! Standing, defeating the filth you are.

    LMAo, I called this 20 months ago!
    Gov Kahones, rising tide for all.
    DeSantis saved Florida, business’s, kids, families, the peeps, parents, as his Covid is #1 example of right stuff.

    Chameleon crisp and or fraud no chance!
    DeSantis wins with 60% vote!
    As said, soros Manchurian heads exploding. Liberal morons! Enjoy!

    Reply

    • Mother Superior Slapshot, Order of the Cross and Switchblade

      August 5, 2022 at 3:29 pm

      Hmmm, Mister Tom, there is something rather unholy about this latest rant of yours. It isn’t just your childish name-calling, it is more so the idolatrous nature of your praise for another mortal man. Not to mention assigning to yourself powers only God possesses, such as claiming to know what is in the hearts and minds of the liberals for whom you express so much hatred. Yes, unholy is the word for it, Mister Tom.
      Time for your spanking!
      “I am the FP legend…”
      No, sir, you are the FP repetitious cheerleader who embarrasses yourself with your adoration of DeSantis, and yet you are too enthralled with puppy love (and with yourself) to recognize how foolish you sound. “I am the FP legend” is downright delusional, unless of course you see yourself as a legendary fool.
      Bless your heart, and have a nice day.

      Reply

      • Tom

        August 5, 2022 at 5:54 pm

        Thank you for affirming my FP legendary status, mother disperser

        I know all, say all and decide all.
        The moronic replies from you, and rest of the inept and incoherent soros Manchurian nation are good for toilet paper.

        America’s Greatest Gov has every right and every constitutional authority to do so. It seems that all the Manchurian panties are tied in knots. Wah. It’s over for you pathetic bastard Manchurians. He’s masterfully called you all out, exposed you and the rest out.

        America’s Gov whizzes upon all you soros manchurians. He will get 60% of vote, cause as I outlined above, the peeps are on his side. Cause he’s on their side! See it fits like a glove.

        America’s Gov saved Florida, saved kids, saved seniors, saved jobs, businesses, environment and more.
        The quality of life is great. The peeps love Ron.

        As for you had the rest. You all are a joke, not just woke.

        It’s amazing how pathetic you are, cheerleading, hardly. As the FP legend I bring the balance compAred to the pathetic Dem Dum Dems that you are apart. America’s Gov wins with 60% of vote. Chameleon and fraud have no chance.

        It’s over, whiz kid Gov whizzes upon you all daily. Liberal Manchurians heads exploding. We love it.

        Reply

  • Bernie C. Papy III

    August 5, 2022 at 12:08 pm

    I thought Warren was suppose to be a prosecutor, not a PC social warrior

    Reply

  • Monga Pow

    August 6, 2022 at 10:00 am

    The Geroge Soros loving Joe H. has it wrong of course. It is not about any single issue….it is about being a marxist radical liberal prosecutor. After the 15 weeks, Warren needs to be fired permanently.

    Reply

  • Paul Mccormick

    August 7, 2022 at 12:34 pm

    Why would any educated individual that lives in Florida think about voting for Charlie Christ.do they remember when he was the governor or the attorney General. He didn’t help Florida’s people. He only helped himself. When he lost election after elections he finally got what he wanted gerrymandering .He won a representative of a new district thanks to Morgan and Morgan and George Soros. LETS WAKE UP vote for democracy. Not socialism!!

    Reply

    • Tom

      August 7, 2022 at 3:16 pm

      He’s the chameleon.
      Perennial candidate. Loser, no chance.

      Reply

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