Federal Judge Repudiates DeSantis Suspension of Andrew Warren, but Has No Remedy

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Tampa, FL – It was a mixed ruling from the perspective of Andrew Warren.  A federal judge repudiated the actions of Governor Ron DeSantis in suspending elected State Attorney Warren, but offered no remedy.

“Florida Governor Ron DeSantis suspended elected State Attorney Andrew H. Warren, ostensibly on the ground that Mr. Warren had blanket policies not to prosecute certain kinds of cases,” the judge wrote.

He said, “The allegation was false. Mr. Warren’s well-established policy, followed in every case by every prosecutor in the office, was to exercise prosecutorial discretion at every stage of every case. Any reasonable investigation would have confirmed this.”

The court concluded that the suspension violated the Florida Constitution and also the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

But the judge adds, “But the Eleventh Amendment prohibits a federal court from awarding relief of the kind at issue against a state official based only on a violation of state law. And the suspension would have occurred even had there been no First Amendment violation—the First Amendment violation was not essential to the outcome.”

Following the release of the ruling, Warren held a press conference where he issued a four-minute, pointed statement, but took no questions from the media.

“The trial was a search for the truth, and over the past five months the truth has come out. The truth is that Gov. DeSantis abused his power and suspended me not in the pursuit of justice but in the pursuit of politics. The truth is that this suspension was never about the job that I did,” Warren said.

As the judge wrote in the ruling, “The actual facts, whether Mr. Warren actually had any blanket non-prosecution policies, did not matter.’’

Warren argued, “The suspension was always a political stunt, a cheap trick to add one more misleading line to the governor’s stump speech. The truth is, for the past six years I’ve been a pragmatic, forward-looking state attorney, both tough and smart on crime, representing my own vision of criminal justice and the purple county that I so proudly serve.”

But, Warren added, “DeSantis and his enablers didn’t care about the truth. They didn’t care about our office’s success. They didn’t care about the safety of our community, and they didn’t care about the will of the voters. They cared about scoring political points through a political stunt. Period.”

Warren explained, “From the day I was suspended, I’ve said that the suspension was illegal. And although a judge said he couldn’t put me back into the office to which I was twice elected, a federal judge confirmed that the suspension was illegal”

Warren continued, “The judge concluded that the governor violated federal law and state law. He violated my First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution by suspending me for speaking out on issues of public importance. He violated my First Amendment rights by suspending me because I am a Democrat. He violated the Florida Constitution by suspending me not because I had done anything wrong but because my vision as state attorney doesn’t fit with his political agenda.”

As the judge wrote, “The record includes not a hint of misconduct by Mr. Warren. The assertion that Mr. Warren neglected his duty or was incompetent is incorrect. This factual issue is not close.’’

Andrew Warren said, “From the beginning, I have said that this case was bigger than just me. The idea that a governor can break federal and state law to suspend an elected official should send shivers down the spine of anyone who cares about free speech, the integrity of our elections or the rule of law, three core principles on which our democracy is built.

“When the governor announced the suspension, he stood up and proclaimed that our government is a government of laws, not a government of men. I couldn’t agree more. The judge wrote, quote, ‘If the facts matter. the governor can simply rescind the suspension.’’’

Fair and Just Prosecution Executive Director Miriam Krinsky expressed disappointment that the court concluded it had no ability to overturn the suspension of Warren.

She said in a statement, “Allowing the tyrannical whims of a governor to overrule the will of the people sets a dangerous precedent that is befitting an authoritarian regime, not a democracy. “

The Court definitively found that this “allegation was false…. [T]he controlling motivations for the suspension were the interest in bringing down a reform prosecutor—a prosecutor whose performance did not match the Governor’s law-and-order agenda—and the political benefit that would result.”

Krinsky added, “The people of Florida have a right to expect that their vision of justice and the common sense reforms they embraced in twice electing Andrew Warren will matter and be respected by others, including the state’s governor. But sadly, today’s decision may simply pave the way for Governor DeSantis to remove more elected officials over nothing more than political differences.”

Warren vowed to fight on.

Krinsky added, “We know this is not the last chapter in this fight and commend SA Warren for his ongoing efforts to vindicate the will of the voters, protect the right of free speech and preserve the foundation of our democracy.”

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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