By Alexis Rios-Jimenez
TAMPA, FL – The law firm of Zuckerman Spaeder LLP late last week filed an amicus brief here in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida on behalf of 115 legal scholars in an ongoing suit by Florida State Attorney Andrew Warren, who was suspended by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis because of the prosecutor’s view on abortion.
Warren is attempting to be reinstated following his indefinite suspension by DeSantis. The suspension was widely seen as unusual, with many calling it a “disturbing attack on democracy and the rule of law,” the Zuckerman press release said.
DeSantis drew attention to Warren’s promises to use his prosecutorial discretion to not prosecute abortion providers and those who provide assistance, and to avoid promoting the criminalization of gender-affirming healthcare.
The amicus brief was spearheaded by professors Bruce Green, Fordham University School of Law’s Director for the Louis Stein Center for Law and Ethics, and Ellen Yaroshefsky, Hofstra University’s Maurice A. Deane School of Law Professor of Ethics.
The amicus brief asserts the legitimacy of Warren’s statements regarding policy on controversial legal issues, explaining that it helps supports the public interest.
As the Zuckerman press release mentions, the legal scholars’ brief holds that a prosecutor “fulfills their professional obligation to promote law reform while enabling constituents to assess their views on policy relevant to their work. By making their views public, a prosecutor sparks a debate among the community and other actors within the criminal justice system about the wisdom of those choices – and faces electoral accountability for them.”
The amicus brief recounts how the scholars who worked on the brief labeled the actions being taken against Warren as “astonishing,” merely for taking a firm position on policies that are reflective of his own ideology and priorities.
The scholars went on to mention that the suspension that occurred out of entirely political reasons gravely undermines the standards of public service and that it “usurps the will and power of the electorate and eviscerates the carefully crafted separation of powers erected in the Florida Constitution.”
Zuckerman Spaeder partner Sara Alpert Lawson, who submitted the brief on behalf of all the legal scholars, shared her thoughts on the State Attorney’s suspension, arguing it should be “deeply concerning to everyone who believes in democracy and the checks and balances our forebearers established.”
She also went on to mention that allowing the governor to suspend or remove an elected official purely out of policy disagreements would render elections meaningless.