DeSantis seeks dismissal of suit by suspended prosecutor

Sep 2, 2022, 9:25 PM | Updated: Sep 4, 2022, 9:12 pm
FILE - This combination of Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022 photos shows Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, left, and...

FILE - This combination of Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022 photos shows Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, left, and Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren during separate news conferences in Tampa, Fla. On Friday, Sept. 2, DeSantis wants a federal judge to throw out a free speech lawsuit filed by Warren, he suspended from office over statements about not pursuing criminal charges in abortion, transgender rights and certain low-level cases.(Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP, File)

(Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP, File)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants a federal judge to throw out a free speech lawsuit filed by a Democratic prosecutor he suspended from office over statements about not pursuing criminal charges in abortion, transgender rights and certain low-level cases.

The Republican governor told U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle of Tallahassee in a filing late Friday that Andrew Warren — removed last month as elected state attorney in Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa — cannot claim First Amendment protection for his comments on how he would handle these hot-button political issues.

“Mr. Warren had no First Amendment right, as a public official, to declare that he would not perform his duties under Florida law,” state Solicitor General Henry C. Whitaker wrote in the 39-page filing for DeSantis.

Warren, first elected in 2016 and re-elected in 2020, claimed in his lawsuit filed Aug. 17 that the governor is overturning the will of the people who put him in office and that his suspension is based solely on his statements and not on any actual prosecutorial decisions.

Warren said the governor’s dismissal motion misses the mark. His lawsuit ultimately seeks his reinstatement as state attorney.

“This is a poor defense of an indefensible abuse of power. The fact that taxpayers continue to foot the bill for this makes it even more shameful,” Warren said in an email statement.

Hinkle has scheduled a Sept. 19 hearing in Tallahassee to hear arguments in the Warren lawsuit. The GOP-dominated state Senate, which has authority to affirm or rescind the prosecutor’s suspension, is holding off its proceedings until the court challenge is settled.

The case comes as DeSantis seeks re-election in November against Democrat Charlie Crist, who has made abortion rights a cornerstone of his campaign. DeSantis is also widely considered a candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

When Warren was removed from office Aug. 4, DeSantis accused the prosecutor of incompetence and neglect of duty. The governor cited joint statements Warren signed with prosecutors across the country pledging not to prosecute people who seek, provide or support abortions or to criminalize gender-affirming health care or transgender people.

The governor also contended that Warren was improperly seeking to “pick and choose” which laws to enforce, such as a policy against going after some low-level crimes such those found when police stop a pedestrian or bicyclist — known locally as charges stemming from “biking while Black.”

In the dismissal motion, DeSantis argues that Warren has no justification to bring a free speech claim because he was not simply stating opinions but taking official prosecutorial positions — which Warren rejects — and that federal court is not the place to settle it.

“At bottom, this case does not warrant federal court intervention in a quintessentially state matter: the governor’s constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and the state’s constitutional process for removing wayward officials who refuse to faithfully execute those laws,” the governor’s motion says.

DeSantis appointed former Hillsborough County Judge Susan Lopez to replace Warren as state attorney. She was previously appointed to the bench by DeSantis in 2021.

Warren has received support for his lawsuit through “friend of court” briefs filed by a number of legal scholars and by members of the state Constitution Revision Commission.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Democratic candidate for Georgia governor Stacey Abrams poses for a portrait in front of the...
Associated Press

GOP attacks Georgia’s Abrams on voting as judge rejects suit

ATLANTA (AP) — When Democrat Stacey Abrams narrowly lost the Georgia governor’s race to Republican Brian Kemp four years ago, she didn’t go quietly. She ended her campaign with a nonconcession that acknowledged she wouldn’t be governor, while spotlighting her claims that Kemp had used his post as secretary of state to improperly purge likely […]
12 hours ago
Associated Press

Governor’s office reports at least 4 N.C. storm fatalities

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The remnants of Hurricane Ian downed trees and power lines across North Carolina, and at least four fatalities connected to the severe weather were reported Saturday. In Johnston County, outside of Raleigh, a woman found her husband dead early Saturday morning after he went to check on a generator running in […]
2 days ago
FILE - Brazil's Justice Minister Sergio Moro throws his hands up as he arrives to testify before a ...
Associated Press

Fortunes reverse for ex-judge and Brazil president he jailed

CURITIBA, Brazil (AP) — When federal judge Sergio Moro resigned to enter politics, many in Brazil believed the anti-corruption crusader who jailed a popular former president could someday occupy the nation’s most powerful office. But on the eve of Brazil’s general election Sunday, the once-revered magistrate was fighting what polls showed was a losing battle […]
2 days ago
FILE - This undated file photo posted on Twitter on June 18, 2020, by Venezuela's Foreign Minister ...
Associated Press

Venezuela releases 7 jailed Americans; US frees 2 prisoners

WASHINGTON (AP) — Venezuela on Saturday freed seven Americans imprisoned in the South American country in exchange for the release of two nephews of President Nicholas Maduro’s wife who had been jailed for years by the United States on drug smuggling convictions, a senior U.S. official said. The swap of the Americans, including five oil […]
2 days ago
People walk toward the border crossing between Georgia and Russia at Verkhny Lars, as they leave Ch...
Associated Press

Fewer Russians cross border to flee despite military call-up

TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — Fewer Russians have crossed into neighbouring countries in recent days, according to local authorities, despite persistent anxiety over the partial mobilization the Kremlin launched less than two weeks ago to bolster its forces fighting in Ukraine. The mass exodus of Russian men — alone or with their families or friends — […]
2 days ago
Protesters hold ''esteladas'' or Catalonia independence flag as they take part in a demonstration t...
Associated Press

Catalans commemorate 5th anniversary of failed breakaway

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Thousands of Catalans gathered in Barcelona on Saturday to commemorate the fifth anniversary of an independence referendum that marked the high point of their movement to break away from the rest of Spain. The 2017 vote, which was declared unconstitutional by Spain’s top courts, was marred by clashes with police who […]
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
DeSantis seeks dismissal of suit by suspended prosecutor