Monique Worrell slams ‘weak dictator’ Ron DeSantis, vows to pursue re-election
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Monique Worrell
The Democratic State Attorney argued her suspension only happened to make headlines as the Governor's presidential campaign sputters.

Suspended State Attorney Monique Worrell slammed Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decision to remove her from office as “tyranny.” The Democrat vowed to continue her re-election bid.

“I am your duly elected State Attorney for the 9th Judicial Circuit, and nothing done by a weak dictator can change that,” she said.

“This is an outrage. Three years ago, I was elected by the people of the 9th Judicial Circuit to lead this circuit — and yes, to do things unconventionally, to do things differently. But I didn’t hide. I didn’t say I would do things and not do them. I did exactly what I said I would do and that is what you want from an elected official.”

The Orlando Democrat held a press conference outside the Orange County Courthouse hours after being informed she was being removed from office. Worrell also disclosed two of her Chief Deputy Assistants were fired from their posts.

DeSantis suspended Worrell early Wednesday following months of scrutiny, alleging the prosecutor failed to pursue minimum mandatory sentences on violent and drug-related crimes. Speculation around such a move swirled since DeSantis similarly suspended Andrew Warren, State Attorney for the 13th Judicial Circuit, just over a year ago.

“Worrell’s practices or policies of avoiding minimum mandatory sentences for gun crimes not only defies the expressed will of the Florida Legislature, it also subjects the residents of Orange and Osceola Counties and surrounding areas to increased risk of harm as violent criminals in the community are too often left on the streets or prematurely returned to the streets to cause, further violence and mischief,” reads an executive order signed by DeSantis.

But Worrell asserted that politics motivated the suspension. Her removal came a day after DeSantis fired the Campaign Manager for his presidential campaign.

“I guess today it’s my turn,” Worrell said.

Worrell won election to her position in 2020. She won a crowded Democratic field in the Primary for the open seat. No Republican ran in the heavily Democratic circuit, and she defeated Jose Torroella in the General Election with almost 66% of the vote.

Of note, Florida voters elected 19 State Attorneys in 2020, six of whom were Democrats. DeSantis has now suspended two of those six, with Warren and Worrell.

DeSantis named Judge Andrew Bain, whom he previously had appointed to an Orange County judgeship, to replace Worrell. Worrell, though, declined to criticize Bain directly.

“I know Andrew Bain personally, I think he’s a great guy,” she said. “I’m not going to, you know, take any hits against him. This is the work of the Governor.”

She did assert that DeSantis suspended her in part to satisfy police unions, who have opposed prosecution of cops she said committed crimes against the public.

“I’m not speaking out against law enforcement as a whole,” Worrell said. “But I am telling you that, as in any profession, there are bad actors. The difference with law enforcement is that they have covered it up. Systemically, they have covered it up.”

Worrell also encouraged prosecutors and staff in her office to continue their work.

She would not address specific statistics in DeSantis’ executive order suggesting her office sees a high percentage of cases dispensed with through diversion programs. The document, for example, notes the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office referred 58 non-homicide robbery with a firearm cases to prosecutors in 2021 and 2022. But as of May, only one of those cases resulted in a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years.

But Worrell suggested DeSantis’ Office had created a misleading narrative through the use of certain statistics, some of which have not been tracked historically.

“We know that the Governor has been searching for a reason,” she said.

“We saw a manufactured Juvenile Justice report that showed that I lead the state in dismissal of juvenile justice cases. You have to ask yourself, this report has never before been created. Why all of a sudden now? Because it was manufactured by an agency that’s run by the Governor so they can create the facts, so that they can support their narrative, but that doesn’t mean that those things are true.”

News has already come out that juvenile diversion programs established by Worrell will be discontinued, something she called a “travesty.”

“People should not be unnecessarily entangled in the criminal legal system if there are diversionary options,” Worrell said, defending her approach to the delivery of justice. “The Mayor had a task force on public safety, and diversionary options were one of the recommendations that came out of that task force.”

Worrell said she has lawyers looking at DeSantis’ order, and will announce any plans if she legally challenges the suspension. But she also said failed attempts by Warren to be reinstated likely show her removal will be permanent — at least through the end of her four-year term.

But the Democrat vowed to continue her re-election effort, even soliciting donations to her campaign during the press conference.

“I have been a public servant for my entire career, and I will continue to serve our community,” she said. “I will continue to stand for democracy, I will continue to protect the rights of the disenfranchised.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • W.D. Tater

    August 9, 2023 at 12:15 pm

    She right about Weak Dick Tater!

  • Thomas Kaspar

    August 9, 2023 at 12:24 pm

    She let out a murderer who killed NEWSREPORTERS and a CHILD , do you people care about the dead or slanting news for your DNC buyers ???? “Last week, the Orlando community, along with Floridians and Americans across our state and nation were shocked by reports of the heinous murders of three innocent people in Pine Hills, Florida. This week, a classroom at Pine Hills Elementary School will be without the bright smile of nine-year-old T’yonna Major. Televisions in homes across Central Florida, and the newsroom at Spectrum News 13, will miss the dedicated reporting and kindness of 24-year-old Dylan Lyons. In Pine Hills, friends and loved ones mourn the loss of 38-year-old Nathacha Augustin and pray for the recovery of two others injured in this attack.?

    All three of these young Floridians were senselessly gunned down by a vicious criminal who never should have been on our streets. Now, we must have justice and full accountability. If convicted, nothing short of the death penalty should be sought as punishment for this vile murderer.

    • Dont Say FLA

      August 9, 2023 at 12:44 pm

      Thomas Thomas Thomas. Are you watching Newsmax again? I thought we talked about this!

      State Attorneys are not in charge of prisons, parolees or pit bulls. Attorneys also are not in charge of sentencing.

      If you don’t like somebody’s prison sentence, tell it to the judge, or tell it to whoever elected or appointed the judge.

      IOW tell it Florida’s voters or tell it to Ron DeSantis.

  • tom palmer

    August 9, 2023 at 12:28 pm

    As has been pointed out elsewhere, the State Attorney’s office does not impose sentences. That is up to judges. Interesting the complaints came from Osceola County, which has had some officer misconduct issues that and the state attorney did set up a program to look into police brutality and misconduct;

  • Dont Say FLA

    August 9, 2023 at 12:48 pm

    Have to wonder what Rhonda is trying to hide from the program that was set up for looking into police brutality and misconduct.

    Why would Rhonda want to shut that program down?

    One might infer the brutality and misconduct occurs as ordered from the top. Or the bottom, rather. Rhonda is not a top.

    Trump has a memo. Maybe Rhonda wants a memo too. A memo is not an indictment, but Rhonda’s got to start somewhere.

Comments are closed.


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