Andrew Warren suspension trial ends, decision expected in two weeks
Ron DeSantis, Andrew Warren. Image via AP.

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'I suspect every state official in this state, especially those elected as Democrats, are watching this trial.'

The first round of the legal battle between Gov. Ron DeSantis and Andrew Warren, the Hillsborough County State Attorney he suspended in August, ended Thursday, but the dispute could drag on for months.

After each side gave closing arguments in the case, U.S. Judge Robert Hinkle of the Northern District of Florida said he hasn’t made up his mind and would likely take at least two weeks to render a decision. And that decision could trigger an appeal, especially if he rules in favor of Warren, who is asking to be reinstated as State Attorney.

George Levesque, DeSantis’ attorney in the case, asked Hinkle to stay any ruling against them, and Hinkle said he would likely give each party time to appeal to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals for a stay pending appeal.

DeSantis suspended Warren on Aug. 4, citing two pledges Warren signed not to prosecute abortion cases or any instance of a doctor performing a gender reassignment surgery on a minor, as well as two internal policies in Warren’s office not to prosecute low-level misdemeanors unless public safety was at risk.

Warren signed the abortion pledge in June, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court released its Dobbs decision, overturning Roe v. Wade, the seminal abortion rights ruling.

Warren was elected to the State Attorney position in 2016 and re-elected in 2020.

Much of the action in the three-day trial centered on DeSantis’ motivation for the suspension. Was it to sideline a Democratic prosecutor who has major policy disagreements with DeSantis? Or to ensure the law was upheld and that blanket pledges not to enforce certain crimes didn’t lead to “lawlessness” in the district?

Earlier in the day, Gary Wiseman, Warren’s Chief of Staff who stayed on in that role after his suspension, was called by DeSantis’ attorneys. He testified he believed the pledge Warren signed not to prosecute abortions was an official policy of the office. On Wednesday, two other members of Warren’s senior staff testified they didn’t think it was an official policy.

Jean-Jacques Cabou, Warren’s attorney, pointed to an interview Warren did with local Tampa media four days after signing the abortion pledge in June where he stressed each case would be evaluated on its own merits before a decision was made.

Later on, Ryan Newman, DeSantis’ General Counsel who helped draft the executive order suspending Warren, said he thought that was a mere “disclaimer” and the pledge would mean no abortion cases would ever be brought.

“I just think there’s a fundamental incongruence between what he pledged and what he said he would do,” Newman said.

Cabou countered that no abortion case ever reached Warren’s office for a decision and no abortion-related case was investigated by law enforcement in Hillsborough County.

Cabou declared they had proved DeSantis acted with partisan intent, citing his interview with Fox News personality Tucker Carlson the night of the suspension, in which DeSantis mentioned “Soros prosecutors,” a group of prosecutors backed by George Soros, a financier of liberal and progressive causes.

Another Warren attorney, David O’Neil, also spoke of the “chilling effect” the move could have on elected officials, discouraging them not to speak out on major issues of the day, if it is upheld.

“I suspect every state official in this state, especially those elected as Democrats, are watching this trial,” O’Neil said. “If Mr. Warren’s suspension is upheld, what other elected official will speak out on these issues?”

Levesque argued DeSantis was solely interested in ensuring the law was being enforced and that Warren’s decision to sign the abortion pledge wasn’t just speech but something that impacted his decisions in office, and one that could erode enforcement of the law.

If the suspension is upheld, the issue would likely go to the state Senate, which can determine whether to formally remove Warren from office or reinstate him. After the November elections, Republicans hold a 28-12 advantage over Democrats in the Senate.

DeSantis named Susan Lopez, a former Hillsborough County judge, to replace Warren in the interim.

Gray Rohrer


14 comments

  • Tom

    December 2, 2022 at 9:09 am

    Fed Judge Hinkle, is on the slip pest of slopes.
    He’s clearly sided with Warren under false
    Pre tense of first amendment. Hinkle also alluded to Govs rights. If Warren cared so much bout his job he should have done his job, kept his mouth shut on behalf of soros agenda.

    He will be appealed to 11th circuit, and overturned if he rules against the Gov. Warren’s only appeal is to Florida Senate, per const.

    • Joe Corsin

      December 2, 2022 at 9:12 am

      Reported to Florida Politics for antisemitic conspiracy theories and hate speech.

    • Elliott Offen

      December 2, 2022 at 11:38 am

      Gon get ye balls kicked from your head round the back of your ass!!!

    • Osode

      December 5, 2022 at 4:51 am

      Much as the 11th Circuit is essentially a conservative court, they have shown that they can be unbiased and can interpret the law properly.
      I strongly believe that any appeal brought to them will end up in favor of Warren

  • Tom

    December 2, 2022 at 9:09 am

    Fed Judge Hinkle, is on the slip pest of slopes.
    He’s clearly sided with Warren under false
    Pre tense of first amendment. Hinkle also alluded to Govs rights. If Warren cared so much bout his job he should have done his job, kept his mouth shut on behalf of soros agenda.

    He will be appealed to 11th circuit, and overturned if he rules against the Gov. Warren’s only appeal is to Florida Senate, per const.

    • Joe Corsin

      December 2, 2022 at 9:13 am

      Double post there slap head. What in the hell is wrong with you? What an azzhole 🍩

      • daniela patterson

        December 2, 2022 at 10:42 am

        It’s best to ignore that Idiot! Unfortunately you can’t block or mute on here!

  • Donald J Trump

    December 2, 2022 at 9:12 am

    Ron DeSanctimonious AkA Mini Hitler will not succeed if he runs for president. I have all the dirt. The affairs, the money laundering, the collaboration with Russia by Pushaw, you name it I have it. He better not even think about it. And Fake Tom better stop cheerleading DeSanctimonious 2024. I will send skinheads over to come straighten you out.

  • Larry Gillis

    December 2, 2022 at 10:30 am

    Prosecutors are NOT “mini-legislators”, deciding what the law is and what the law is not. The Florida legislature is the legislature. Prosecutors are merely the hired help, assisting the Governor in executing the law.

    Prosecutors will do what they are told to do by the law, or they will hit the road. Admittedly, there is such a thing as “prosecutorial discretion”, but that is not what we are talking about here. Here, we are talking about “nonfeasance”, sleeping on duty.

    (BTW, your thinking about the public policy underlying these particular laws is irrelevant).

    • Joe Corsin

      December 2, 2022 at 10:58 am

      President should send armored brigades down here and clean out the legislature, governors mansion, and sort out the counties as well. It’s an authoritarian nightmare and many civil and human rights abuses going on here. Also poverty is unacceptable.

    • Osode

      December 5, 2022 at 4:53 am

      That is where you miss the point: This prosecutor is NOT the help as he is not a govt appointee…. He is as elected an official as DickSantis is….and he should be accountable to the electorate that voted for him and not the mini-Hitler, DickSantis

  • Fred Tabor

    December 2, 2022 at 12:48 pm

    District Attorney Warren is an excellent prosecutor but apparently a terrible politician. First, hiring a MAGA Republican Chief of Staff, really? Second, not realizing that signing that document in Florida, a state with no checks and balances and run by a wannabe autocrat, would result in him getting booted from office was another rookie mistake. He should have known that because he was a Democrat, DeSantis would see it as manna from heaven and use it as a pretext to get rid of him. I knew Warren would be fired the minute I heard he signed it, given how unethically DeSantis wields his power to gets rid of Democrats on any cooked up charges he and his lackey county sheriffs can scrape together.

    Nevertheless, Warren shouldn’t have been fired on this pretext, which after all was clearly exercising his free speech rights.

    Notice how DeSantis selectively enforces his rules. For example, I’ve seen no attempt to rid of Florida’s “constitutional sheriffs”, those who promise not to enforce laws that they don’t think should be enforced. Constitutional sheriffs believe that they have broad discretion to evaluate the laws to decide which ones to enforce, and against whom to enforce them. Sheriffs confront and evaluate laws and enforcement actions every day; Warren never confronted an enforcement action the law related to the document he signed. Yet Warren is gone and the sheriffs remain. Anyone really interested in purging vigilantes from law enforcement should contact DeSantis to tell him these sheriffs need to go. Then hold your breath.

    • Joe Corsin

      December 2, 2022 at 1:48 pm

      He should have just kept his mouth shut and defied the man secretly instead of jumping on some grenade. Now everyone loses.

  • PeterH

    December 2, 2022 at 4:54 pm

    Andrew Warren will win this suit because even elected officials have first amendment rights!

    Furthermore

    Warren will probably file a multimillion dollar civil suit ….. which he will also win.

Comments are closed.


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