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Warren v. DeSantis trial begins Tuesday: What to expect

A judge will decide whether DeSantis violated Warren's First Amendment rights when he removed the state attorney from office.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The legal battle between suspended Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren and Gov. Ron DeSantis heads to trial on Tuesday.

A judge will ultimately decide whether DeSantis violated Warren's First Amendment rights when he removed the state attorney from office for what he described as a "neglect of duty." 

The Florida governor, however, will likely not be present in the courtroom. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled before Thanksgiving that DeSantis will not be required to testify, although he may revisit that decision in court this week.

DeSantis made national headlines on Aug. 4, when he announced the controversial decision to suspend Warren, citing statements the then-state attorney made pledging not to prosecute those who seek or provide abortions or transition-related care for transgender youth.

"When you make yourself above the law, you have violated your duty," DeSantis said at the time.

On April 14, DeSantis signed a Florida law banning abortions after 15 weeks, with few exceptions. Just days later, the Florida Department of Health issued guidance against providing gender-affirming care for children under 18.

The governor claimed Warren violated his oath of office by picking and choosing which laws to enforce. Warren called the move an "illegal overreach" and a stunt DeSantis was using to "further his own political ambition." 

Just weeks after his suspension, Warren sued DeSantis in a lawsuit claiming the governor was simply punishing Warren for positions he opposes.

“If the governor's allowed to do this, what's left of democracy? If the governor's allowed to retaliate against me for speaking out, what's left of the First Amendment,” Warren said back in August. 

Per a judge's ruling, Warren has remained out of office as the case awaited trial. 

Warren, a Democrat, was first elected by Hillsborough County voters in 2016 and re-elected in 2020.

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