#JusticeBriefs

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis fires elected state prosecutor for signing a document in opposition to arresting women seeking abortions

Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon

Thursday morning, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced he had removed State Attorney Andrew Warren due to “neglect of duty.”

Hillsborough County State Attorney Warren, who has been voted into office twice, is viewed as a “rising liberal leader,” and also has a reputation for working well with law enforcement.

It seems the so-called neglect of duty to which Governor DeSantis referred is the fact that Warren put his signature on a letter, which was co-signed by more than 90 other prosecutors from around the nation (including seven prosecutors from California), all of whom pledged not to prosecute women who sought abortions, or those who provide them.

The letter against prosecuting women for seeking abortions, which was organized in late June by the California-based non-profit Fair & Just Prosecution, after the U.S. Supreme Court dynamited Roe v. Wade, was not all that infuriated DeSantis.

Within days of signing the one letter, it seems Warren also signed another joint document, an amicus brief, which featured signatures by more than 100 criminal justice leaders from around the nation – including current and former prosecutors, law enforcement leaders, attorneys general, judges, and former Department of Justice officials. In this case, those who signed the brief supported legal efforts to block the State of Texas from prosecuting and criminalizing parents who seek “gender-affirming care” for their transgender children. 

Warren’s signatures on the two documents, while basically the expression of an opinion on two issues, rather than an actual prosecutorial action (or the refusal to act), still constituted a firing offense, according to the Florida governor with presidential aspirations.

After DeSantis’ Thursday morning announcement,  Warren held his own press conference, at which he defended his record as state attorney, noting he kept crime low, and protected the constitutional rights of the people in his district.

“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,” Warren said in a written statement. “It spits in the face of the voters of Hillsborough County who have twice elected me to serve them, not Ron DeSantis.”

Tampa’s mayor,  Jane Castor, who was the city’s police chief from 2009 to 2015, was one among many who spoke harshly about DeSantis’ removal of Warren from his office.  (He was reportedly literally escorted out of his office Thursday morning.)

 “Removing a duly elected official should be based on egregious actions — not political statements,” Mayor Castor tweeted. “In a free state, voters should choose their elected officials.”

In his press conference, Warren told those listening that he has yet to have a case brought to him on either matter. 

 This is particularly true of the issue of potentially criminalizing parents of trans youth, in that Florida has no such law.  It is Texas that has passed this virulent anti-trans legislation.

However, Florida does have on the books the painful and damaging so-called Parental Rights in Education Bill, limiting LGBTQ discussions in schools, a law that is now being challenged by attorneys general from 16 states, who argue it lacks educational merit and harms students and teachers.

I any event, thus far, Warren says, he and his office have not seen any of the kinds if cases at issue.

“You should go ask the Sheriff whether he has had those cases and whether they’re investigating arresting people for that, because when they do, and they bring us a case, we’ll evaluate it,” Warren said.

Interestingly, Warren’s firing by DeSantis was not the main issue the twice-elected prosecutor discussed in his Thursday afternoon press conference.  Instead, the primary focus of the press event was a dramatic update on an innocence case that Warren’s office had broken open two years before.

 “In 2018, my office created a conviction review unit to find and fix wrongful convictions,” Warren told his listeners. 

“Two years ago, that unit exonerated Robert DuBoise. He’d spent 37 years in prison for a rape and murder that he did not commit. Our investigation found DNA evidence that established Robert did not murder Barbara Grams. That DNA evidence did provide new leads, and launched a fresh investigation.”

Warren then described how the DNA evidence, in addition to freeing DuBoise, led them to two men, who “actually murdered Barbara Grams 39 years ago.” 

He said both men, who are already in prison for other crimes, had also raped and murdered another woman in Tampa in 1983, and that crime had gone unsolved as well.

The men are subjects in other cold case investigations from the same time period in the Tampa Bay area, Warren added.

Before elaborating on the matter of the two new suspects, Warren described the work of his office’s Conviction Review Unit, which he said reviews plausible claims of innocence and “safeguards” against wrongful convictions. 

“In the rare case where an innocent person is convicted, it means the actual criminal got away with a crime,” Warren told reporters. “But for these victims, that stops now. It’s extremely rare for exonerations to be followed by the prosecution of the actual perpetrators.”

So, had the wrong man not been convicted, would other crimes have been prevented?  

Whatever the case,  the Florida governor’s public safety concerns for Tampa Bay seem to focus on having a prosecutor willing to arrest a woman who is seeking an abortion—or the parents of transgender sons or daughters, should Florida pass a law similar to that of Texas.

“Governor DeSantis’ suspension of State Attorney Andrew Warren is an unprecedented and dangerous intrusion on the separation of powers and the will of the voters,” wrote Miriam Krinsky, of Fair & Just Prosecution in an email.

“Governors don’t hand-pick elected prosecutors, the voters do. With this outrageous overreach, Gov. DeSantis is sending a clear message that the will of the people of Hillsborough County matters less than his own political agenda.”

So it would seem.

Nevertheless, when asked at his press conference, what he was doing when he got the news of his termination by the governor, Warren replied crisply that he was “doing the work I was elected to do as state attorney.”

He was focused, he said, on “delivering justice” to the family members of the murdered woman, “that they’ve been waiting for 39 years to get.”

He was also, he said, overseeing an office of 300 people who keep 1.5 million people safe in Hillsborough County.

“So if governor wants to do his side show with his cronies,” said Warren, “I’m in the one who’s upholding the law and keeping the community safe.”

We have fought hard, he said, “for fairness, public safety, and justice.”

This isn’t a governor trying to overthrow one elected official, said Warren near the press conference’s end. “This is a governor who is trying to overthrow democracy here inHillsborough County.”

The top photo is a screen shot of State Attorney Andrew Warren at his press conference.

18 Comments

  • He would have kept his job if he did his job according to the law in place He and anyone else cannot make up their own agenda and or laws are in place to be followed.

  • Great Job! Governor Desantis is a Yale and Harvard educated lawyer and has much greater legal credentials than the majority of lawyers and politicians in office. He surely outclass the BS Poli Sci major that leads this state! Governor DeSantis simply exercised the powers of his office to correct a rogue states attorney (or county district attorney) who vocally and willfully advocated violating his oath of office by not enforcing the laws of the state in which they serve. The Florida states attorney Andrew Warren is also a disciple of the George Soros school of far left progressive quality of life destroying DA’s in the vein of Chesa Boudin (former), George Gascon, Alvin Bragg, Larry Krasner, Marilyn Mosby (former), John Chisholm and Kim Fox to name some of the most radical. These States Attorney’s/District Attorney’s have all been on a mission to “reimagine the criminal justice system” to protect criminals and ensure the victimization and re-victimization of innocent people under the legal protections of “absolute immunity” and “prosecutorial discretion”. This makes these individuals untouchable by any legal or civil standard and immune from any accountability. Just to be clear for those who don’t know, police officers are only afforded “qualified immunity” which only shields them to some degree against criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits.

    Just as Governor DeSantis stated, the concepts of prosecutorial discretion was intended to be applied on a case by case basis and never ment to be used as a broad brush and blanket shield to allow these “prosecutors” to ignore the laws passed by the state legislatures due to their own personal ideological beliefs! Andrew Warren was not above the law and the governor exercised his right and responsibility to remove a rogue actor from the states criminal justice system who vowed not to uphold his oath or follow the states laws.

    I am looking forward to any court challenges brought forward by Andrew Warren in the criminal justice system and hope it sets precedents to “reign in” these rogue progressive “wannabe prosecutors” once and for all.

  • Celeste’s article may be factual but a little bit deceptive. “Gender affirming care” is the real issue here, it’s the one the republicans see as a winner, and the issue the majority of voters absolutely hates. Politically speaking, the other stuff is just noise.

  • A Needed Action….

    “I am looking forward to any court challenges….”

    Me too.

    As you pointed out the Governor has his Baccalaureate from Yale University and his Law Doctorate (J.D.) from Harvard.

    Moreover he did his military time as a military lawyer so he is more than able, by himself, to fend off legal challenges.

    What he did was throw down the gauntlet in the culture wars.

  • So now in Florida you can be fired for what you think? It states in the article that NO cases pertaining to a new law were brought to the prosecutor. Stating what he thought about the law is NOT a firing offense. Should you be fired Manny for what you stated above? Of course not and why would you want to live in such OPPRESSION?

  • DeSantis is an asshole and a mini dictator who thinks he is god and you people in Florida who back this idiot and maniac are just as racist and crazy as he is I feel sorry for all of you I hope you get the help you need before he cuts that off

  • @ A Needed Action…… very well stated!

    @ Anonymous……..bit upset are we? Where is your tolerant, accepting, right to free speech, loving and caring human being you people claim to be? I really enjoyed how you spouted off that DeSantis and the people who support him are racist & crazy.

    I presume I am racist as well, even though I am a minority. Last time I checked, I believe there are Black and Latino folks who support Mr. DeSantis.

    Get a handle on that unhealthy attitude of yours. Otherwise, you may be the one who needs the help.

  • Floridians are just weird. You guys skipped reading every other word and then tried to justify it. At no point did he interpret or deny enforcing the law! In addition you all are so quick to throw up Americas and its freedoms And rights and right here you’re defending someone trying to take that away. Since when does an governor elect and fire an AG? So his personal opinion means more than his constituents? Weird!

  • Desantis is just a little bitch boy who is posturing for his upcoming failed bid to be the next dictator in chief. [WLA edit.]

  • Whinny little you know what’s! Hypocrites!

    Elections have consequences do they not? There are many who object to the Biden/Harris train wreck but are subject to their political whims for four years. Numerous red state governors, legislatures and voters are not happy with the DC leadership of the Republic but have to live with the results and abide by the US Constitutional and powers afforded to the President. Extend this view to the state of Florida of which Governor DeSantis was elected to lead. The voters and supporters of the former States Attorney Warren may not like the decision made by the duly elected state of Florida Governor DeSantis but he is abiding by his states constitution. All the voters of the state of Florida voted for Governor DeSantis.

    Get Over It!

  • Somebody please explain to me how a governor can fire an elected (Not Appointed) public official? He didn’t hire Warren, so in a Constitutionally limited Republic, he can’t overturn the will of the voters.

  • M. Corliss

    It says in the first paragraph–“Neglect of duty.”

    Not even an “elected” official can be retained in office if he is going to “neglect his duties.”

    As mentioned elsewhere in this forum the Governor has his J.D. from Harvard University, so odds are that the Governor’s action will withstand legal challenges.

  • He probably has more legal knowledge than 99% of our leaders in Washington who are trying to run this country, watch what happens when he goes to court

  • Fake news. He was fired because he has been refusing to prosecute serious crimes. Victims have rights too.

  • The WT bigots always spew the same crap. These are the same idiots who support autocracy. The GOP had become an embarrassment , fumed by the most stupid, gullible people ever. They don’t care about law and order. Look at these sore losers attacking our Capitol and committing most of the mass murders.

Leave a Comment