Welcome to the free State of Florida; at least we are a free state if you agree with our governor. But, unfortunately, if you disagree with Gov. DeSantis, Florida has limited free speech and a repressive, dictatorial governor. Take, for example, Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren.
Last week, Gov. DeSantis suspended Warren for saying his office would not prosecute individual cases on abortion and transgender issues. DeSantis also said he was suspending Warren for dereliction of duty. Remember, Warren didn’t do anything. He just said he wouldn’t prosecute. So much for free speech.
Warren was fired because he opposed the Governor on many issues, and he pledged “not to prosecute certain cases involving abortion and transgender health care provision. The governor did not see footnote 2 of the pledge in question and the subsequent CNN interview in which Warren clarifies that the prosecutors in his office would use their discretion in determining the prosecution of a law concerning abortion — as they would in cases involving any other crime. If using prosecutorial discretion to determine which cases to prosecute is cause for suspension, the Governor should get ready to suspend all 20 state attorneys in Florida.”
Edelyn Verona, Besiki Luka Kutateladze, Bryanna Fox and Marvin Krohn wrote an opinion piece in the Tampa Bay Times. These columnists are criminal justice and evidence-based practice researchers and faculty affiliated with Florida public universities. They said: “Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decision to suspend Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren does not reflect what we know about the actual responsibilities of prosecutors and Warren’s performance as state attorney. The suspension attacks the law and science, which Warren consistently follows and we have the data to show it.”
The researchers showed that Warren is not neglecting his duty as a law enforcement officer. Based on data provided by the Prosecutorial Performance Indicators project, the office filed 85% of felonies and misdemeanors brought to its attention, including more than 80% of felonies. This is relatively high as compared to statewide or national trends, data that contradicts statements made by officials supporting Warren’s suspension.
Based on the data from Measures for Justice, the office has a higher conviction rate — 74% — than most other Florida counties. For example, the conviction rate in Miami Dade is 58%.
Warren said, “Just based on the Governor’s track record with unconstitutional orders, I feel this will be just as unconstitutional.”