TAMPA, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis dropped the announcement of the suspension of State Attorney Andrew Warren during a news conference Thursday morning.
With this news making headlines, some may be wondering who exactly Warren is and the role he played in not only in Hillsborough County but also in Florida. Warren, a true Floridian born and raised in Gainesville, was elected as the Democratic state attorney of Florida's 13th Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County back in November 2016 — just beating Republican challenger Mark Ober by just over 5,000 votes.
Warren was then reelected in 2020, surpassing the Republican by a more comfortable 46,000-vote margin.
But before he took on the title of state attorney, he worked as a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice, the Office of the State Attorney's website explains. He spent the majority of his career with the DOJ prosecuting financial fraud across the country.
"As a prosecutor, Warren earned multiple accolades from the Justice Department and federal law enforcement agencies, including the 2013 Attorney General Award for Trial Litigation," the website said. "He has lectured and served on panels across the United States and abroad regarding criminal justice, and he was an instructor at the Justice Department’s national training center."
Warren graduated from Brandeis University with degrees in economics and political science before going on to receive his law degree from Columbia University. He continued into his career as a clerk in a federal district court in San Fransicso before practicing "complex criminal and civil litigation" with an international law firm in New York and Washington, D.C.
He eventually returned back to the Sunshine State where he now lives in Tampa with his family.
Before his suspension, Warren led an office of around 130 prosecutors and 300 total employees, the Office of the State Attorney's website explains.
According to the state attorney, the office's mission was to "build a safer community while promoting justice and fairness for everyone in the criminal justice system."
Warren was suspended Thursday after an order released by the governor's office claimed the state attorney "demonstrated his incompetence and willful defiance of his duty" starting at least in 2021. DeSantis' order cited article four, section seven of the Florida Constitution in allowing him to suspend Warren.
The order cites joint statements Warren issued on topics including transition-related health care for transgender youth, abortion rights and his instituting policies against prosecuting certain "criminal violations" as reasons for his suspension.
Speaking during a news conference at the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, DeSantis said Warren violated his oath of office and picked and chose the types of laws he enforced.
"When you make yourself above the law, you have violated your duty," DeSantis said.
In Warren's place, DeSantis has appointed current Hillsborough County Judge Susan Lopez to serve as the acting state attorney of the 13th Judicial Circuit. According to the governor's office, before she was appointed in 2021 by DeSantis as a judge, she previously served for more than 15 years as assistant state attorney for the 13th Judicial Circut and as staff attorney of the Second District Court of Appeal.
Warren issued the following statement following his suspension:
"Today’s political stunt is an illegal overreach that continues a dangerous pattern by Ron DeSantis of using his office to further his own political ambition. It spits in the face of the voters of Hillsborough County who have twice elected me to serve them, not Ron DeSantis.
"In our community, crime is low, our Constitutional rights—including the right to privacy—are being upheld, and the people have the right to elect their own leaders—not have them dictated by an aspiring presidential candidate who has shown time and again he feels accountable to no one."
"Just because the governor violates your rights, it doesn’t mean they don’t exist.”
The latest available data from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement show that while crime in Hillsborough County dropped from 2019 to 2020, violent crime went up 85 percent. The state defines violent crimes as murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults.
Violent crime has been up nationwide, however, according to FBI data.
To read more about the suspension of Warren, click here.