NewsHillsborough County

Actions

Gov. DeSantis suspends State Attorney Andrew Warren for putting 'himself publicly above the law'

"If the governor thinks he can do a better job, then he should run for state attorney, not president," Warren said
desantis suspends andrew warren at hcso
Andrew Warren, Thomas Scott
Posted at 10:59 AM, Aug 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-04 23:15:55-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Governor Ron DeSantis announced State Attorney Andrew Warren of the 13th Judicial Circuit has been suspended for putting "himself publicly above the law."

"Today we are suspending Andrew Warren, effectively immediately," Desantis said during a press conference at the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

Desantis said Warren is being suspended because after his staff compiled records, they concluded that Warren "put himself publicly above the law."

Andrew Warren, Thomas Scott
Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren, right, speaks during a news conference Monday, June 15, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. Warren announced his decision not to prosecute dozens of protesters arrested on charges of unlawful assembly during a Black Lives Matter march on June 2. Looking on is visionary leader Bishop Thomas Scott. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

DeSantis said, earlier this year, he asked his staff to check in with communities across Florida to learn more about whether state attorneys were picking and choosing what crimes to prosecute.

“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 we looked into it and we compiled a lot of the record and I can tell you it’s been a very, very troubling record," he said.

ABC Action News contacted Attorney General Ashley Moody's office and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office — both directed ABC Action News to the Governor's office to request the records, with an HCSO spokesperson saying the decision to suspend Warren was based in research done by DeSantis' office. We're waiting to hear back.

"Our government is a government of laws not a government of men and what that means is that we govern ourselves based on a constitutional system and based on the rule of law. But yet we've seen across this county over the last few years individual prosecutors take it upon themselves to determine which laws they like and will enforce and which laws they don't like and then don't enforce."

DeSantis gave the following examples of Warren determining which laws he would and would not enforce:

"In June of 2021, he signed a letter saying that he would not enforce any prohibitions on sex change operations for minors," DeSantis explained. "... and then most recently, after the Dobbs decision was rendered by the U.S. Supreme Court, he signed a letter saying he would not enforce any laws relating to protecting the right to life in the state of Florida."

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said law enforcement officers put their lives on the line for complete strangers and are resolved to "apprehend the criminals who prey on law-abiding citizens in our community."

He said they trust that the criminal justice system will hold those guilty accountable.

"The governor's suspension of State Attorney Andrew Warren is not political to me," Chronister said. "It's about law and order. It's about ensuring our loved ones are safe. It's about the victims and their voices."

Over the last several years, Chronister said Warren has acted like a "supreme authority by reducing charges, dropping cases and single-handedly determining what crimes will be legal or illegal in our county."

In a Thursday afternoon press conference on a cold case, Warren fired back at the governor when he said, "If the governor thinks he can do a better job, then he should run for state attorney, not president."

DeSantis said, during Warren's suspension, Susan Lopez, who has been serving as a Judge on the Hillsborough County Court, will serve as State Attorney of the 13th Judicial Circuit.

“I have the utmost respect for our state laws and I understand the important role that the State Attorney plays in ensuring the safety of our community and the enforcement of our laws,” said Susan Lopez. “I want to thank the Governor for placing his trust in me, and I promise that I will faithfully execute the duties of this office.”

Hours after DeSantis' announcement, Warren released the following statement:

“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. It spits in the face of the voters of Hillsborough County who have twice elected me to serve them, not Ron DeSantis.

In our community, crime is low, our Constitutional rights—including the right to privacy—are being upheld, and the people have the right to elect their own leaders—not have them dictated by an aspiring presidential candidate who has shown time and again he feels accountable to no one.

Just because the governor violates your rights, it doesn’t mean they don’t exist.” — Andrew Warren

Watch the full press conference below:

Gov. DeSantis suspends State Attorney Andrew Warren | Press Conference

Read the full suspension order below:


"This is a politically motivated attack on a universally respected State Attorney democratically elected to exercise prosecutorial discretion. Ron DeSantis is a pathetic bully. He’s doing this because he wants to be dictator, not a governor of Florida. That’s not how this works, though. This will backfire. We just saw it in Kansas. Florida is a pro-choice, pro-democracy state. If this stands, the people of Florida will put an end to it in November." — Nikki Fried

"The people of Hillsborough elected Andrew Warren not once, but twice, because of his commitment to safety and justice for all people. This action by Governor DeSantis is that of a wannabe dictator who puts partisan politics first. He doesn't give a damn about women or average Floridians. It’s a flagrant abuse of power.

“If Governor DeSantis was truly worried about the people of Florida, he would focus on the affordability crisis that’s crushing our state and squeezing working families.” — Charlie Crist