Suspended Florida Prosecutor Gets Favorable Decision by Appeals Court, Asks for Fast Resolution; Gov. DeSantis Wants Case to Go to Full Court

AP Photo

By Audrey Sawyer

TAMPA, FL –  On Aug. 4, 2022, twice-elected state attorney for Tampa/Hillsborough Andrew Warren was suspended by Gov. Ron DeSantis after Warren signed a public pledge that he would not prosecute those who seek or provide abortions.

Warren filed his legal challenge on Aug. 17, and remains the duly-elected state attorney, but DeSantis has appointed an active sitting attorney until Warren is either reinstated or removed from office according to the Florida Senate.

However, the legitimacy and legality of these appointments have been questioned according to rulings of two federal courts, according to Warren.

Warren’s attorneys said they filed a request for the 11th Circuit of Appeals to move along quickly to the next phase of the case. As of this week, the case will have now spent around 17 months moving through the legal system.

The second crucial development is that the 11th Circuit ruled requiring, said Warren, DeSantis to file a response to the request, which he did, asking for the full Circuit to look at it, said Tampa.com.

DeSantis’ attorneys indicated in court documents they plan to ask for a review by all 12 judges on the 11th Circuit. The court’s rules, however, discourage losing parties from making such requests unless the case presents an issue of exceptional importance, wrote Tampa.com, adding the “court’s order Thursday gives them until Jan. 25 to file a petition for that review. Court documents also indicate DeSantis could seek a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 11th Circuit of Appeals could officially send the case back to the District Court, to which the judge of the District Court will review the decision of the appeals court before making a new ruling in the case, explained Warren’s team.

Warren’s attorneys said they filed a request which asks for an “expedited issue” of the mandate. An argument made by Warren’s legal team asks for urgency, stating: “The court has previously acted expeditiously to uphold election integrity and to protect the democratic process.”

Another point raised by Warren’s legal team in a statement is that the resolution of the current case with Warren will have a “massive impact on the next election for State Attorney the upcoming year.” His team states that Warren was elected by millions and argues that millions had now seen a nullified election.

A decision from Judge Robert Hinkle, said Warren, in the Northern District of Florida in January of last year saw that DeSantis had broken federal law by suspending Warren “in retaliation for Warren’s speech on matters of public importance and for his association with the Democratic Party, violating his First Amendment rights under the constitution.” The Court did state that they had no right to reinstate Warren though, citing the 11th Amendment.

With the case returning to the District Court, the 11th Circuit of Appeals wrote: “The Eleventh Amendment permits federal courts to remedy First Amendment violations” explaining that Judge Hinkle does have the authority to reinstate Warren.

According to Tampa.com, Warren announced Jan. 8 he “wouldn’t run in November because, he said, DeSantis would likely suspend him again if he won. It sounded like farewell.”

But two days later, “a federal appeals court ruled in Warren’s favor, raising the possibility of his return to office and setting off a flurry of questions about politics, procedure and what comes next,” said Tampa.com.

About The Author

Audrey is a senior at UC San Diego majoring in Political Science (Comparative Politics emphasis). After graduation, Audrey plans on attending graduate school and is considering becoming a public defender.

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