Florida Governor Suspends Elected District Attorney Who Refused to Prosecute Abortion Doctors

The Governor of FloridaRon DeSantis, suspended Tampa District Attorney-elect Andrew Warren after he said he would not use his office to go after people who seek and provide abortions or doctors who treat transgender people.

In an executive order, DeSantis accused Warren of “dereliction of duty” and “incompetence” as Hillsborough County’s state attorney, since “taking a position that you have veto powers over the laws of the state is untenable.”

Hours later, Warren responded by accusing DeSantis of “trying to overthrow democracy here in Hillsborough County,” which encompasses the west-central city of Tampa.

At a news conference, during which he revealed two suspects in a pair of cold-case murders from 40 years ago, Warren defiantly declared, “I remain the duly elected state’s attorney for Hillsborough County.”

“If the governor thinks he can do a better job, then he should run for state attorney and not president,” Warren said, a reference to reports that DeSantis is widely considered a candidate for the 2024 Republican nomination.

Warren did not say whether she intends to take legal action to overturn the suspension, nor is it clear what will happen if she tries to continue working as a state attorney.

Earlier Friday, the Florida 13th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office website was placed in “maintenance mode.” In the afternoon, it was back online and had DeSantis’s appointee to replace Warren, Hillsborough County Circuit Court Judge Susan Lopez.

The move by DeSantis, a Republican, to unseat a Democrat twice elected by Hillsborough voters drew an immediate and sharp rebuke from Democratic lawmakers and state officials.

Democratic Minority Leader Senator Lauren Book said DeSantis was “behaving more like a dictator than a governor in America” ​​by exercising prosecutorial discretion.” “Ron DeSantis is a pathetic bully,” she emphasized.

DeSantis said the decision to suspend Warren came after he directed staff to review whether any state prosecutors in Florida had been tasked “with determining what laws they like and will enforce” after seeing prosecutors in other states refuse. to press charges for certain crimes. That review led them to Warren, who has become a strong advocate for criminal justice reform and the overturning of wrongful convictions.

“The governor shouldn’t have had to come to Hillsborough County and clean up our mess,” former Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said during a news conference. “That’s really what it comes down to.”

Under Florida law, a governor can remove any county official for misconduct, dereliction of duty, drunkenness, incompetence, permanent inability to perform official duties, or commission of a felony.

But the Florida Senate also has the power to reinstate a suspended official.

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