DeSantis suspends Hillsborough state attorney for ‘neglect of duty’

Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended the Hillsborough County State Attorney, charging him with neglect...
Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended the Hillsborough County State Attorney, charging him with neglect of duty.(Courtesy of WTSP)
Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 12:08 PM EDT
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UPDATED at 2:20 p.m. with statement from Andrew Warren.

TAMPA, Fla. (WWSB) - Gov. Ron DeSantis has suspended the Hillsborough County State Attorney, charging him with neglect of duty for refusing to aggressively prosecute cases involving abortion and teen gender reassignment.

In a news conference Thursday morning at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, DeSantis accused Andrew Warren of selective enforcement, creating “a very, very troubling record. Andrew Warren has put himself publicly above the law,” he said.

DeSantis accused Warren of refusing to enforce laws concerning sex-change operations for minors and third-trimester abortions. Reports from law enforcement agencies about lax sentences for criminals also played a role in his decision, DeSantis said.

“It all came back to this area here in the 13th Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County, and the response that we got was a lot of frustration on the part of law enforcement for criminals being let go and crimes not being prosecuted.

“And so today we are suspending State Attorney Andrew Warren effective immediately.”

Warren fired back hours later in a statement, calling his suspension a stunt. “Today’s political stunt is an illegal overreach that continues a dangerous pattern by Ron DeSantis of using his office to further his own political ambition,” the statement said. “It spits in the face of the voters of Hillsborough County who have twice elected me to serve them, not Ron DeSantis.”

The official order suspending Warren included statements by the group Fair and Just Prosecution, signed by dozens of prosecutors across the county, that argue laws that target transgender people and curtail abortion rights are unjust.

“Warren’s declared refusal to prosecute abortion cases is alone sufficient to justify his suspension and removal for neglect of duty and incompetence,” the order states.

At the news conference, Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister applauded Warren’s suspension. “It’s not political to me. It’s about law and order,” he said.

“Over the last several years, Warren has acted as an adjudicator of all, by reducing charges, dropping cases, and single-handedly determining what crimes will be legal or illegal in our county,” Chronister said.

Former Tampa police chief Brian Dugan called Warren a “fraud,” saying Warren did not prosecute more than 60 protesters who were arrested during demonstrations following the death of George Floyd in 2020.

After suspending Warren, DeSantis appointed Hillsborough County Court Judge Susan Lopez to serve as state attorney during Warren’s indefinite suspension.

The group Women’s Voices of SW Florida issued a statement in support of Warren. “Women’s Voices of SW Florida stands in solidarity with State Attorney Warren for his dedication to the defense of reproductive freedom and transgender existence, and for faithfully upholding our Florida Constitution,” a statement said. “Governor DeSantis continues his journey from Governor to Dictator.”

Warren was elected as state attorney since 2016 and was reelected in 2020. According to his biography on his official website, Warren previously served as a federal prosecutor with the United States Department of Justice.

After initially prosecuting street crime in Washington, D.C., he spent the majority of his career with the Justice Department prosecuting financial fraud.

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