I still can’t get over the fact that Governor DeSantis suspended Hillsborough County’s twice-duly-elected State Attorney, Andrew Warren, a Democrat.
After the suspension, Governor DeSantis replaced Warren with The Honorable Susan “Suzy” Lopez, a Republican.
Because it’s complicated to explain, the media has done a terrible job covering this local coup d’état.
Everyone I know, including the local criminal defense bar, like and respect The Honorable Suzy Lopez. Nevertheless, we were all shocked and dismayed that she’d participate in this kind of political stunt.
During the press conference, the Governor and area sheriffs took their time gloating about their power to do what they want. The crowd laughed and cheered.
By the time State Representative Mike Beltran started rambling, it looked like The Honorable Suzy Lopez might just turn and run away.
But she didn’t. She took the job and started removing Warren’s name from everything and inserting her own.
In response, Warren brought a lawsuit in federal court, which found Governor Desantis’ allegations were false in a 59 page order that clearly explains why the suspension was a political stunt. Click here to read the order – Warren v. DeSantis.
The first page says:
“The order concludes the suspension violated the Florida Constitution and was based in part on a violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. But the Eleventh Amendment prohibits a federal court from awarding relief of the kind at issue against a state official based only on a violation of state law. “
For that reason, the case was dismissed, but Andrew Warren proved his point before his trial in the Florida Senate.
Republicans, including State Representative Mike Beltran, are still gloating. They claim the order is a “victory” while ignoring the bigger implications.
They know the Florida Senate, controlled by Republicans, will conduct the “trial” as required by Fla. Const. art. IV, § 7(a). Surely, these state senators will fall in line with the Governor even if they know better.
According to their website, the Florida Senate has the exclusive responsibility to sit in judgment of the merits of a suspension. The Senate may remove from office or reinstate the suspended official. Florida Senate Rule 12 outlines the process adopted by the Senate.
A few of my Republican friends seem alright with the blatant violations of the state and federal constitution if the political stunt benefits Governor Desantis and embarrasses a so-called “woke” prosecutor focused on reforms that make the community safer.
I am still not okay with it.
What do you think?