Suspended Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren is taking his case to the Florida Supreme Court.
Removed by Gov. Ron DeSantis from office last year, the twice-elected prosecutor lost his federal lawsuit to get his job back in January. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled that although the governor violated both the Florida Constitution and Warren’s free speech rights, the judge did not have the authority under the 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to reinstate Warren.
Warren appealed that decision to a federal appeals court in Atlanta Tuesday. Late Wednesday, he took his shot with the Florida Supreme Court by filing a petition there, arguing that since the federal judge ruled that the governor’s reasons for suspending him were illegal, he should be returned to office.
“There was a clear finding that the governor broke both federal and state law,” said Warren attorney David Singer of the Older Lundy Koch & Martino firm in Tampa. “It cannot be that when somebody breaks federal and state law, there is no accountability and no relief. That is not our system of justice.”
The governor’s office did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.
DeSantis said he suspended Warren for refusing to follow the law. He listed in his order pledges Warren signed with other prosecutors against pursuing abortion and transgender cases. He also took issue with office policies discouraging prosecution of certain low-level nonviolent crimes and cases stemming from police stopping bicyclists — a tactic known as biking while Black.
After a three-day trial, the judge found the governor’s claim that Warren had blanket non-prosecution policies was false. The judge said Warren used prosecutorial discretion and “was diligently and competently” doing his job.
The judge also noted that his dismissal of Warren’s case doesn’t affect whether Warren can “obtain relief in state court.”
Warren, a Democrat, has called his ouster by a Republican governor widely expected to run for president a political stunt.
His pending appeal in federal court could be a long shot: In previous lawsuits, DeSantis has tended to fare well on appeal.
On the Florida Supreme Court, four of the seven sitting justices were appointed by DeSantis.