TAMPA, Fla. — Suspended Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren sent a letter to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office, asking to be reinstated based on the findings of a federal judge.
Although the judge declined to order Warren’s reinstatement citing a lack of jurisdiction, the same opinion found that DeSantis had violated both the U.S. and Florida constitutions in removing Warren from office.
“We’ve called on the governor to reinstate me,” Warren said. “This is the opportunity for him to make it right. To show the people of Florida that his oath to follow the law wasn’t just empty words.”
In his first one-on-one interview since Judge Robert Hinkle’s ruling, Warren repeatedly cited the federal judge’s 59 page order.
“He said I have done my job exceptionally well, that I hadn’t done anything wrong," Warren said. "That the accusations against me were totally false and that the suspension was illegal."
Moreover, Hinkle found the governor had violated both the U.S. and state constitution.
But as a federal judge, Hinkle said he lacked the jurisdiction to force DeSantis to reinstate Warren.
That, the judge found, is a state issue.
“From day one I said this was a political stunt, a political hit job and an illegal suspension," Warren said. "I hadn’t done anything wrong. A judge confirmed that. Every single piece of it.”
Warren said if the governor is true to his oath, he would follow the judge’s option and voluntarily reinstate him.
“It shouldn’t matter if you’re a Republican or Democrat. If you like the governor or hate him. If you believe in the rule of law, as all Americans should, and this is a very simple solution,” Warren said.
If that doesn’t happen, Warren still has several legal options. He could appeal in federal court and file a new case in state court using Hinkle’s order as a roadmap.
He could even run for the same office again in 2024.
“It’s just so far in the future,” Warren said. “But right now, we’re thinking about this decision, and how to be reinstated like we deserve.”
The letter to DeSantis also cites concerns, given judge Hinkle’s opinion, regarding cases being handled in Warren’s absence.
“Why jeopardize every prosecution that’s going on now in the state attorney’s office when you have someone who is invalidly appointed to be the state attorney," Warren said. "The governor, the answer is quite clear what he should do, he should follow the law."
In the meantime, Warren finds himself where he was in August, still on the outside looking in and weighing his next move.
“We’re calling on the governor to reinstate me and follow the law,” Warren said. “And if he declines to do so, if he continues to violate his oath of office, then we'll seek redress in the courts.”
The governor’s office sent the following statement to 10 Tampa Bay in response to Warren’s letter:
“Andrew Warren, of all people, should understand the distinction between legal dicta and the holding of a court’s decision," the governor's office wrote. "The failures that motivated the suspension were Mr. Warren’s actual performance—not advocacy—as a reform prosecutor.
"Mr. Warren signed a statement refusing to prosecute the laws of the land. Thus, the governor removed Mr. Warren for neglect of duty and incompetence. Public prosecutors cannot pick and choose which laws to enforce.
"In its lengthy opinion, the Court attempted to usurp the Florida Senate’s constitutional authority to make a determination on Mr. Warren’s neglect of duty and incompetence. It is the Florida Senate that is to rightly serve as the ultimate factfinder in this case.
"We do not agree with the Court’s dicta, which are merely opinions, and need not address them since the Court ultimately determined it lacked jurisdiction and thus ruled in favor of the governor. Mr. Warren remains suspended from the office he failed to serve."