Andrew Warren stay trial could get messy for Governor DeSantis, constitutional lawyers say

Suspended Hillsborough State’s Attorney Andrew Warren remains unemployed, but a federal district court judge wants a trial to decide whether to get him back.

The twice-elected state attorney was suspended by Gov. Ron DeSantis for dereliction of duty and incompetence in August. The governor pointed to two pledges Warren signed, agreeing not to criminalize those who seek and provide abortions and gender-affirming cases.

Warren said he was suspended for something he said, not something he did. No case involving these issues has ever reached his office. He said the governor violated his First Amendment rights.

Professor Bruce Rogow, a respected First Amendment and constitutional attorney in Florida, recently defended Roger Stone in his federal case. He has also appeared 11 times before the United States Supreme Court.

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Rogow believes Governor DeSantis has disenfranchised Hillsborough County voters.

“For the governor to take matters into his own hands and decide that this person should no longer be in office after being elected twice is a pretty extraordinary thing,” Rogow said.

Rogow thinks Warren’s lawyers will want to depose Governor DeSantis, and the governor might even be happy about it.

“It’s fair that the governor explains in court with cross-examination why he fired him,” Rogow said. “The governor may say ‘come on, come to me. I’m happy to tell you why I did this. Why do I think I was right. “”

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As for evidence, Warren will want the Governor’s emails, text messages and notes regarding his suspension, which Rogow says could be complicated for Governor DeSantis.

“I think it could be embarrassing and unconstitutional,” Rogow said. “It’s embarrassing if the discovery shows that she’s politically motivated, that’s not how governance should be. It would be embarrassing.”

He believes there could be an endless legal battle over this evidence. Rogow also said the parade of sheriffs who stood behind the governor when he announced Warren’s suspension could be drawn into this.

“For example, if the sheriff was the one who said to the governor ‘you need to get Warren off the job, I don’t like what he’s doing’, well, that would certainly be very relevant and discoverable. So, a- does he send any emails? are there any phone conversations? any phone records?” Rogow said.

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Rogow said a trial would reveal a real motive and Warren could be on the winning side.

“I think Judge Hinkle will find that was politically motivated and that this is a First Amendment violation,” Rogow said.

However, he explained that it would not end there. Judge Henry Hinkle’s decision will be appealed by the losing party. This appeal will be heard by the Court of the Eleventh Circuit. Once they rule, again, the losing side could appeal to the state Supreme Court for a final decision. Rogow said legal “ping pong” could take up to two years to decide.

Next week, Warren’s attorneys and the governor’s legal team are due to submit a report to the judge about evidence in the case that may be contested. Lawyers will also provide a schedule to help the judge set a trial date.

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