Opinion DeSantis sacked me for doing my job as a prosecutor. Who’s next?

cigaretteman

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By Andrew Warren

August 12, 2022 at 8:05 a.m. EDT

Andrew Warren was elected state attorney for Florida’s 13th Judicial Circuit, which covers the city of Tampa and Hillsborough County, in 2016 and 2020.
For nearly four years, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has pursued an approach to governing that has violated the freedoms of people in our state, inventing whatever enemies would help him in his ambition to be the next Donald Trump.
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Without warning, last week, he added me to his list.
An armed sheriff’s deputy and a governor’s aide showed up on Thursday morning at the State Attorney’s Office in Tampa, where I was serving as the elected prosecutor for Hillsborough County. They handed me an executive order signed by DeSantis that immediately suspended me from office. Before I could read it, they escorted me out.
Radley Balko: Firing a successful prosecutor is DeSantis’s latest political stunt
This is a blatant abuse of power. I don’t work for DeSantis. I was elected by voters — twice — and I have spent my entire career locking up violent criminals and fraudsters. Without any misdoing on my part or any advance notice, I was forced out of my office, removed from my elected position, and replaced with a DeSantis ally. If this can happen to me, what can DeSantis do to other Floridians?
Already, the governor has summarily stripped away constitutional rights for millions of people in our state: Black Floridians, who will find it harder to vote because of a DeSantis law that creates unnecessary restrictions targeting election fraud that does not exist. Women, who stand to lose their right to make their own reproductive health choices because of a DeSantis law, which a judge has ruled unconstitutional under state law, severely limiting access to abortion without even exceptions for rape and incest. The LGBTQ community, targeted by the DeSantis “Don’t Say Gay’’ law that prevents educators from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity with students.
The DeSantis enemies list goes on and on. Teachers, accused of putting “incredibly disturbing” books on their shelves. College faculty, who are directed by a DeSantis law to complete a survey about their political beliefs. Even Disney World, which lost its special taxing district in central Florida after it criticized the “Don’t Say Gay’’ law.
So I stand in good company, and the stakes are high. We have seen this sustained attack against our freedoms around the country — and we have to fight back.
That is what I will be doing. I grew up in Gainesville, Fla., left for college and eventually moved to Tampa to raise my family, pursue my career and build a productive life serving my community. Hillsborough County voters elected me as their state attorney in 2016 over a longtime incumbent, and reelected me in 2020. We plan to fight this suspension in the courts, and if successful, I intend to resume the important work I was elected to do: Ensure my community is safe by embracing effective criminal justice policies.
In removing me from office, DeSantis offered no examples of specific actions taken by me or my office that broke or ignored the law. On the contrary, I have been delivering on the promises I made to voters by fighting violent crime, reducing recidivism and investing in public safety through rehabilitation and prevention. Our county’s crime rate is the lowest in the region.
The governor cites statements I signed with other prosecutors from around the country regarding gender-affirming care and restrictions on abortion rights, two of his political wedge issues. These are value statements, where I expressed my opposition to laws that I believe violate constitutional rights. Florida’s current 15-week abortion ban was found to violate the Florida Constitution by the first court to review it. And Florida has no criminal law at all regarding medical treatments of gender-affirming care. His allegations of “neglect of duty” and “incompetence” are based not on what I have done but on what he predicts I will do.
Not one single case dealing with either of those issues has ever reached my desk. So DeSantis’s complaints with how I’m doing my job ring hollow.
By attacking me, DeSantis is overruling the will of the voters who have twice elected me. He is selectively ignoring the discretion prosecutors have — and are ethically required to exercise — in setting priorities and deciding who to prosecute for which crimes. And he is violating my right of free speech to call attention to public policies that take away our freedoms.
Today, in Florida, first businesses, then teachers, and now public servants are being punished if they disagree with or speak out against DeSantis. Our governor’s overreach should alarm anyone who believes in a fair and free democracy, regardless of your political persuasion. And I fear such actions will become part of the political playbook in states around the country if we allow them to stand.
For now, this governor is working to fire me — an independently elected official — for voicing my opinion on issues directly impacting my job. To a lot of us, DeSantis’s self-proclaimed “free state of Florida” doesn’t feel very free.

 

kc78

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It's amazing just how authoritarian Republicans have moved towards. All of the Governmental overreach they keep screaming about is coming from their officials, but somehow it's all the Democrat's fault.

And of course DeSantis has no problem with sherrif's who say they won't enforce laws related to things DeSantis doesn't agree with. Enforcing the law only matters when it's a Democrat expressing frustration with a law.

And essentially what he's done here is make it impossible to be an elected Democrat and say that you believe and support Democratic policies. He hasn't even had a case where he's had an opportunity to choose to enforce this. He's essentially been removed because he campaigned on the fact that he wouldn't. I don't see how that's legal in any way.
 
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Tfxchawk

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It's amazing just how authoritarian Republicans have moved towards. All of the Governmental overreach they keep screaming about is coming from their officials, but somehow it's all the Democrat's fault.

And of course DeSantis has no problem with sherrif's who say they won't enforce laws related to things DeSantis doesn't agree with. Enforcing the law only matters when it's a Democrat expressing frustration with a law.

And essentially what he's done here is make it impossible to be an elected Democrat and say that you believe and support Democratic policies. He hasn't even had a case where he's had an opportunity to choose to enforce this. He's essentially been removed because he campaigned on the fact that he wouldn't. I don't see how that's legal in any way.
I agree with you. This isn't a good look at all and I think there needs to be actual wrongdoing for an elected official to be removed. I don't really even like pressure to resign unless that pressure is what they have done is illegal and they are going to be removed.
 

cigaretteman

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Last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Andrew Warren, the state attorney for the judicial district that includes Tampa and replaced him with a conservative judge. DeSantis said the move was necessitated by Warren’s “woke” policies, including declining to prosecute certain categories of crimes. In particular, DeSantis cited a pledge Warren signed with other prosecutors across the country to not charge women who seek abortions or the doctors who perform them. (Florida recently passed a law banning all abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, though a judge has temporarily blocked the measure.)

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The move is part of a conservative backlash against reform-oriented prosecutors across the country. “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 won’t enforce, and the results of this in cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco have been catastrophic,” DeSantis said.
Andrew Warren: DeSantis sacked me for doing my job as a prosecutor. Who’s next?
But the data tells another story. By my calculation, the homicide rate in San Francisco in 2020 (the last year for which comparable data are available) was 5.5 per 100,000 people. The rate for the state of Florida that year was 7.8, according to the CDC, a remarkable comparison given that crime in cities tends to be higher than crime in states as a whole. The 2020 homicide rate in Los Angeles was, by my calculation, higher at 8.9 per 100,000 people, but that’s still significantly lower than the murder rates in nearly every large locality in Florida, including Miami-Dade County (10.7) and Jacksonville (15.5), and the capital, Tallahassee (14.5).







As for Tampa itself, it’s true, as DeSantis claimed at his news conference, that murders have surged, from 10.4 per 100,000 people in 2020 to 12.1 per 100,000 people last year. But they’ve surged everywhere. The 2021 murder rate was still lower than that of nearby St. Petersburg (12.5)— whose lead prosecutor, incidentally, is a Republican — and the overall crime rate in Warren’s district was 30 percent lower in 2020.
The main consequence of DeSantis’s stunt is to disenfranchise Tampa’s voters. Warren was voted into office in 2016 by a margin of less than one percentage point. Four years later, voters had the opportunity to reject Warren’s “woke” agenda. They reelected him by nearly 7 points.
Florida gives its governor the power to remove public officials from office, but that power has traditionally been reserved for officials accused of crimes or corruption. DeSantis suspended Warren over policy disputes.



DeSantis’s order gave three reasons for dismissing Warren. In addition to Warren’s pledge not to prosecute women who seek abortions or doctors who provide them, he cited Warren’s signature on a joint statement by prosecutors refusing to prosecute parents or health-care professionals for providing gender-affirming health care should Florida make it illegal to do so. But Florida failed to pass that law. In both cases, DeSantis’s beef is that Warren vowed not to enforce laws that are not even in effect — essentially just expressing his opinion about new or proposed laws, as prosecutors do all the time.
Finally, DeSantis cited Warren’s policy of not prosecuting several categories of low-level crime, including prostitution and trespassing. Warren also declines to prosecute misdemeanors stemming from police stops of pedestrians and bicyclists — an effort to reduce the incentive for police to harass and profile people from marginalized communities.
Every prosecutor in the country chooses which crimes will get resources because no one has the ability to prosecute every crime. Warren’s constituents clearly support his priorities. His real offense is prioritizing different and more serious crimes than the culture-war issues that preoccupy DeSantis.







As several Florida criminologists recently argued in an op-ed, Warren in fact is one of the more transparent, responsive prosecutors in the country. His policies are informed by regular meetings with community leaders and researchers, and in 2019, he became the first prosecutor in the state to publish his office’s charging and conviction statistics on a public dashboard.
Warren’s priorities also make sense. Though DeSantis’s order criticized Warren for deprioritizing low-level offenses, the office still prosecutes 85 percent of all crimes that have come to his office, including 80 percent of felonies. Both figures rank highly, both in the country and in the state of Florida. Warren’s office is also less likely than most to reduce felony charges to misdemeanors, and his 74 percent conviction rate is above the state average.
Notably, as DeSantis decried the catastrophe of progressive prosecutors at his news conference last week, he was flanked by Grady Judd, the outspoken law-and-order sheriff from Polk County. Murders in the judicial district that includes Judd’s county jumped 40 percent from 2019 to 2020, then soared again in 2021. In Warren’s district, from 2019 to 2020, they increased by nearly 23 percent. Oddly enough, Judd doesn’t blame his own policies for the murder surge the way he and DeSantis blame Warren. He blames the pandemic.



In September, DeSantis held another widely covered news conference in which he announced new funding for law enforcement, including signing bonuses for new hires. He was flanked by several former New York City cops who had recently joined the force in Lakeland, Fla., part of DeSantis’s effort to recruit officers whom he described as unappreciated by their departments. It was later revealed that two of the officers standing behind DeSantis lied on their job applications about discipline they’d received in New York. Another officer was named in a lawsuit by a man who suffered four broken bones and a dislocated shoulder after a police beating. The low-level marijuana charges against the man were later dropped, and the city paid him a settlement.
Both of these news conferences were political theater. But they were instructive about what Ron DeSantis celebrates in law enforcement officials — and what he finds intolerable.

 

kc78

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It's crazy how much Covid changed his governing style. Prior to Covid I was actually pleasantly surprised as he was governing as a thoughtful conservative. He wasn't waging culture war issues, he was actually working towards some environmental concerns that Democrats had hilighted for a while, and for the most part he was doing a good job as a conservative governor.

Then Covid happened and his response to Fauci propelled him to the spotlight and his entire method of governing moved to authoritarian political theater, ALL of it. He's no longer leading this state, but instead using it to propel himself to the Presidency and it's disgusting.
 
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TC Nole OX

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