An elected Florida prosecutor who was suspended by Governor Ron DeSantis earlier this year will meet with DeSantis at trial, a federal judge announced on Monday.
U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled on Thursday not to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Hillsborough County prosecutor Andrew Warren against DeSantis, who suspended Warren in early August, claiming he had shown “incompetence and willful defiance of his duties.”
Warren claims the governor suspended him in retaliation for speaking out against certain state policy decisions on abortion and transgender issues.
The two opposing attorneys in the case sparred over the political hierarchy, and whether DeSantis, as governor, has the authority to suspend an elected official over expressing their beliefs.
“You really do think the governor is the state attorney’s boss?” the Judge asked state Solicitor General Henry Whitaker.
“He is his supervisor in the same sense that federal prosecutors answer to the president of the United States,” Whitaker responded.
The judge told Whitaker he was mistaken, saying, “The governor can’t go to a state attorney and start giving directions to the state attorney,” and adding that federal attorneys are appointed by the president.
Ultimately, Hinkle decided not to dismiss the lawsuit, saying “I think it’s clear that the complaint states First Amendment claims in which relief can be granted.” The judge did not, however, grant a motion to lift the suspension, saying it is not beneficial to the public to keep changing elected officials.
DeSantis originally cited a letter signed by Warren that claimed Warren would not enforce a new Florida abortion law banning the procedure after 15 weeks for Warren’s suspension.
ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE
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