State Attorney Andrew Warren Files Final Appeals in Bid For Reinstatement

Screenshot from January 2023 press conference

Special to the Vanguard

Tampa, FL – Next week, a Federal Appellate Court will hear oral arguments to determine whether to restore suspended State Attorney Andrew Warren to office after Governor Ron DeSantis suspended him.

This week, Warren’s legal team filed final brief with the federal appeals court, explaining that Warren should be reinstated to his elected position following the trial court’s determination that Gov. Ron DeSantis broke both state and federal law by suspending him.

Warren’s court filing is expected to be the final brief from either party in advance of this coming Tuesday’s in-person argument before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Montgomery, Alabama.

In his brief, the team argues that “he is legally entitled to reinstatement based on the findings of the federal court in Tallahassee.”  That court found that DeSantis violated the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment and the Florida Constitution by suspending Warren in order to take down a “reform prosecutor” and to score a “political benefit” from doing so.

However that court determined it had no authority to reinstate Warren even given those findings.

Warren’s team is now arguing that the court’s determination was legally and factually wrong.

“The Governor cannot defend these rulings on the actual record, so he attempts to a write a different one,” the brief argued. “Just as he misrepresented Mr. Warren’s policies to create the pretext for suspension, the Governor misstates what happened in the District Court to justify the suspension on appeal. He ‘[chooses] to ignore’ critical parts of the District Court opinion, makes ‘untrue statement[s]’ about others, and even distorts his own arguments where they do not ‘fit the narrative’ he now seeks to advance.”

The brief continues, “In the Governor’s view, an elected official has no right to tell her constituents—and voters have no right to hear—what the official believes about the issues and policies for which she is responsible.

“As far as the First Amendment goes, the Governor may undo elections and remove incumbents solely because he disagrees with the viewpoints they express. He may remove any state attorney purely because she is not a member of his political party.”

They add,  “In the Governor’s view … federal courts are powerless to do anything about [violations of the First Amendment]. Whatever else the Governor’s worldview describes, it does not reflect the law in this Circuit or this country.”

DeSantis suspended Warren, the twice-elected state attorney for Hillsborough County/Tampa, on August 4, 2022. In January, following a three-day trial last November, federal Judge Robert Hinkle ruled that DeSantis violated both the Florida and U.S. Constitutions by suspending Warren for politically motivated reasons and for publicity.

The record includes not a hint of misconduct by Mr. Warren,” Hinkle wrote.

However, Judge Hinkle stated he did not have the authority to reinstate Warren. Warren’s appeal focuses on whether a federal court does have such authority where there are violations of both federal and state law, and in March of 2023 the appellate court ordered the appeal to be heard on an expedited schedule.

Warren is also petitioning the Florida Supreme Court for reinstatement through a separate lawsuit.

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