Criminal Defense Lawyers association blasts Gov. DeSantis over ‘brutish’ Andrew Warren suspension
Ron DeSantis. Image via Colin Hackley.

‘Political subdivisions are either laboratories for Jeffersonian democracy or they’re not. Gov. DeSantis seems to want it both ways.’

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ suspension and replacement of Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren has drawn condemnation from the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, which called the move “politically motivated” and “unlawful.”

In a scathing statement Friday, the Tallahassee-headquartered nonprofit slammed DeSantis for his “brutish attempt to force duly-elected prosecutors to bend to his bidding.”

“Instead of allowing constitutional officers to do their jobs, the Governor has chosen to usurp the will of voters by executive fiat in an alarming expansion of gubernatorial power,” the group wrote.

By suspending Warren, DeSantis is “exceeding his authority,” FACDL President Ernie Chang said in a statement, adding the Governor “should allow elected prosecutors to do their jobs and should respect the will of voters regarding the state attorneys they elect.”

“Under the Governor’s flawed logic, each of them should be removed from office if there are legitimate cases they decide not to prosecute, which happens daily across the state through specialty courts … to conserve resources and ensure the most egregious cases are prosecuted effectively,” he said.

The group also argued there is an illogical disconnect between DeSantis’ removal of Warren, whom voters twice elected to prosecute on their behalf in Florida’s 13th Judicial Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which is “rooted in the legal premise that local voters should decide abortion issues.”

“Political subdivisions are either laboratories for Jeffersonian democracy or they’re not,” the group wrote. “Gov. DeSantis seems to want it both ways.”

DeSantis suspended Warren Thursday and replaced him with County Judge Susan Lopez.

The Governor cited Warren’s refusal to enforce Florida’s new law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy and any future prohibition on gender-affirming surgery, decrying Warren’s position as symptomatic of a troubling national trend.

“This is something that I think is a very, very important issue across our country, that this movement would be allowed to take hold, where you basically elevate your own personal concept of … social justice over what the law requires of you,” DeSantis said. “I just think that to take a position that you have veto power over the laws of this state is untenable.”

Warren, a progressive prosecutor, pledged he would not enforce the abortion ban following the overturning of Roe v. Wade but claimed no case related to the ban had yet reached his desk.

During a press conference Thursday in which he revealed his office has identified the “serial killers” behind two 40-year-old cold cases, Warren derided his suspension as a “sideshow” whose effects are likely to be temporary.

The state constitution provides the Governor with powers to suspend local officials for “misfeasance, malfeasance, neglect of duty, drunkenness, incompetence, permanent inability to perform official duties, or commission of a felony.”

On its own, however, the suspension is not a permanent removal from office, and Warren can dispute it. In such a case, the Senate would hold a trial on the issue and either reinstate Warren or uphold DeSantis’ suspension and remove him.

The last Senate trial was in 2019 and ended favorably for DeSantis, whose suspension of Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting became permanent by a 25-15 vote.

DeSantis also suspended and replaced Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher, Okaloosa County School Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson and Port Richey Mayor Dale Massad.

DeSantis reinstated Jackson so she could retire. The others never reclaimed their jobs.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


  • Joe Corsin

    August 5, 2022 at 1:23 pm

    Mini Hitler strikes again..
    Vote RED for far right lies
    Vote RED for abominable grifting
    Vote RED for forced birth of meth babies and crack babies AkA The future of the Republican Party

  • Richard Bruce

    August 5, 2022 at 1:26 pm

    It was expected for defense atty to object. Gov. is making their job harder.

  • Paul Passarelli

    August 5, 2022 at 3:46 pm

    The prosecutor did exactly what these defense attorneys are bemoaning. He proactively argued that his political position was superior to the rule of law, and to make a big noise in his defiance. Had he simply chosen to review individual cases on their merit and selectively chosen not to prosecute particular cases based on sound factual circumstances he probably would have gotten away with it for a long time. Now *ALL* potential prosecutions statewide that might have been tabled or plead down to administrative fines are going to be scrutinized, and not just for under prosecution, but for selective prosecutions meant to make the governor look like the heavy.

  • Marvin

    August 5, 2022 at 4:18 pm

    Lawyers are like dog dirt. Everywhere you walk you step in a pile.

  • Tommy Tampa

    August 5, 2022 at 4:31 pm

    The election cannot arrive quick enough to vote this Right Winger out of office. Bbbye ronnie

    • Impeach Biden

      August 5, 2022 at 4:47 pm

      Ronnie is going nowhere. You are going to be disappointed come November.

  • tom palmer

    August 5, 2022 at 4:49 pm

    Warren simply challenged the legality of bullshit GOP rest.
    restrictionis on our freedoms
    The jackboot of Amerika’s Goober strikes again.

  • Top Job Man

    August 5, 2022 at 4:50 pm

    Desantis was right (because he is smarter than people like Ernie Chang.) 1/Warren did not merely exercise prosecutorial discretion, he declared his intention to dismember the government process by proposing that he had a judge’s power to determine the validity of the law. Warren is denying the right of the legislature to pass laws. Nothin’ there–it happens all the time. Every little pipsqueak quasi-judicial mind thinks it is Justice Douglas, dashing on breathtaking opinions on the back of lunch menus. DeSantis is merely showing Warren that isn’t the case, and it isn’t the case for Chang, either. 2/Then there is ““rooted in the legal premise that local voters should decide abortion issues.” That is mere poppycock. Every little town council does not have the power to ban abortion–right? Pause . . . pause. . .and that means every little cornpone prosecutor does not have the power to make abortion legal.
    DeSantis’ career in Tallahasse has been one sterling declaration after another, and this is the highlight. I’m beginning to think President may not be enough for this man. How about world justiciar? He seems to have the knack for it.

  • tjb

    August 5, 2022 at 4:53 pm

    Gov. DeSantis, you suspended a duly elected official because he voiced a pledge not to do something… does this mean you’ll also suspend the Seminole Sheriff who pledged not to enforce an assault weapons registry?

    • Paul Passarelli

      August 5, 2022 at 5:24 pm

      You are confused. A weapons registry is unconstitutional. The Sheriff is doing his duty by ignoring the unlawful order to register guns.

      That’s quite the opposite of a prosecutor vowing not to uphold the law. But you are a Democrat, so intelligence is not something to be expected in your complaints.

      • tjb

        August 5, 2022 at 6:06 pm

        Insults always make an effective argument Paul Passarelli. Are you the same Paul Passarelli that ran for the office of Connecticut Comptroller { election in 2018 ) and you received 1% of the votes?

        • Paul Passarelli

          August 5, 2022 at 9:53 pm

          Yes, that was me. Why do you ask? Oh, I bet you think I ran to win. That would be laughable. The LPCT has no real base in CT, it’s primarily an experiment in modern politics. The 1% figure was right along with the realistic expectations I had for people who simply did not want to vote for the “D” or the “R”.
          If you are trying to embarrass anyone with the election results from CT, that would have to be the Democrats. Sure they won, but they didn’t win by the 2:1 advantage that have in the number of registered voters.
          But the one thing that the CT elections do provide is the training ground for the Democrats to practice election fraud with little to no chance for repercussions.

          FWIW: This is the second time I subscribed to Florida Politics since moving here. At first I thought it was a reasonably balanced forum. But it turned out to be a Leftist dominated forum, for attack-dogs. So when I signed up again I was better prepared for the onslaught if disingenuous attacks. Color me surprised that it only took hours for the process to repeat itself.

          After 18 months of Sleepy Joe, I’m not even going to contemplate apologizing or tempering my responses for expressing my honest & candid thoughts about Democrats.

          • Joe Corsin

            August 5, 2022 at 10:10 pm

            Christians should be screened for magical beliefs…and Baker Acted as legally insane. Court ordered medication.

          • Tjb

            August 9, 2022 at 11:48 am


        • Paul Passarelli

          August 9, 2022 at 2:43 pm

          Again, yes 1% — hard won, and I’m proud of every single vote! As I wrote, Libertarian Politics in CT is a very strange beast. If you’re trying to embarrass me, you are failing miserably.

          Just for completeness, I’d like to point out that I was simply filling out the LPCT slate. I actually got more votes than the LPCT’s gubernatorial candidate that year.

          I’ve only been in Florida for three years. I’m not quite ready to dip my toes into a political contest down here just yet. The LPF is bigger than the LPCT, but it’s just as disorganized, and spread out over so much more geography, that it’s even less likely to have measurable impact.

          • Tjb

            August 9, 2022 at 5:25 pm

            “Election fraud training ground for Democrats” —-your statement. Do you want to be the Marjorie Taylor Greene or Lauren Boebert of Florida. Don’t waste your time, we now have Matt Gaetz.
            Please, we don’t need a carpetbagger from Connecticut. Also, your statement that this site is leftist dominated, Tom and Impeach Biden will take offense to your description

  • David in Shoreline

    August 5, 2022 at 10:26 pm

    Oh, did a bunch of Tallahassee lobbyists get their fee fees hurt by Governor DeSantis’ lawful exercise of executive authority?

  • wade

    August 5, 2022 at 10:34 pm

    Andrew Warren which was an incredible prosecutor here in Hillsborough County was suspended by the governor of the state of Florida.

    I remember I met Andrew Warren on two separate occasions and he said he’s against police brutality and over-prosecution and he is more for reform and it’s really sad for Tampa to see our prosecutor get fired by the governor.

    I don’t know how the heck is this possible he was elected by the people of Hillsborough County including myself and I have no idea what the heck gives the governor the right to fire a prosecutor who was elected by the people of this county.

    I really liked our governor but I’m not going to vote for him because he does not respect the vote of the people.

    • Charlotte Greenbarg

      August 6, 2022 at 8:37 am

      you need a lesson in how government works. Warren proclaimed that he was not going to uphold the law. You really liked our governor? Seriously? Is your nose growing? LOL

      • Tjb

        August 9, 2022 at 11:45 am

        And when a Florida Sheriff states that he will not uphold a proposed law that DeSantis opposes, DeSantis does nothing.
        Look like a double standard .

        • Paul Passarelli

          August 9, 2022 at 2:33 pm

          What are you talking about? That comment is too vague to respond to. So typical of a Democrat in a debate, make an obscure statement that cannot be verified or falsified.

          I’m only commenting to let you know that I have no intention of swinging at a pitch that’s in the dirt.

          • Tjb

            August 9, 2022 at 5:32 pm

            Wake up. Do your homework on the politics of DeSantis.

          • Paul Passarelli

            August 9, 2022 at 7:54 pm

            LOL — I’m not the one that’s in a sheeple’s delusional drug addled dream. Why not just write “Research Flat Earth”? Because that’s how disintelligent your argument is.

    • Paul Passarelli

      August 6, 2022 at 4:46 pm

      Tell us Wade, why did you vote for Warren? Was it because you really believed in him, or was it because he was the candidate the Democrat Party selected to fill the office? Please be honest with yourself even if you are unwilling to be honest with me.

      But if you find life so unpleasant here, I suggest you move to California or another one of the DEmocrat run shitholes where prosecutors are turning felons out onto the streets to offend again. And no, I’m not lumping abortionists with felons in terms of their risk to society, but I an lumping Warren with the insane breed of Democrats that have abandoned the Rule of Law.

      • Tjb

        August 9, 2022 at 5:35 pm

        “Move to another state” … an answer that you would expect from a carpetbagger from Connecticut.

  • Paul Passarelli

    August 6, 2022 at 4:47 pm

    Nice concise analysis.

  • Paul Passarelli

    August 9, 2022 at 7:50 pm

    Carpetbagger — LOL — No. I hate carpetbaggers. {cough} Hillary {cough} New York{cough}.

    I am currently serving on an appointed (all members are non-partisan) committee. I am biding my time before I seek an elected position, and will in all likelihood need to change my party affiliation to advance.

Comments are closed.


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