TAMPA, Fla. - Last August, the twice-elected Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren was suspended from his office by Governor Ron DeSantis because, DeSantis said, Warren neglected his duties by picking and choosing which laws to enforce.
A lawsuit followed and Warren hit his first block on the road toward regaining his job, but he said his fight isn't over.
Last week, federal district judge Robert Hinkle ruled against Warren's request to be reinstated. Warren said DeSantis broke the law by suspending him.
The judge disagreed – sort of. Judge Hinkle said in his ruling that DeSantis broke state law. Being a federal judge, Hinkle would have to turn Warren back.
In his first one-on-one interview since the decision, Warren told FOX 13 he was disappointed in the outcome.
"This whole process has been really hard on me and my family and not being able to do the job that I was elected to do," Warren said. "The uncertainty about what would happen, the verbal attacks against me and my kids, this has been hard from the beginning, but we’re committed to this fight."
In his 59-page ruling, Judge Hinkle said the governor violated Warren's first amendment right to free speech, however, DeSantis' final decision to suspend Warren was not based on speech alone.
Then Hinkle said DeSantis violated the Florida constitution, but his hands were tied in that matter because Hinkle is a federal judge.
"The court's findings were crystal clear: I have done my job exceptionally well without any wrongdoing. The governor's accusations against me were totally false, and the suspension was illegal," Warren explained.
Judge Hinkle also said that the governor "can easily set it right" and reinstate Warren.
Following the ruling came down, Warren sent a letter to the governor asking for his job back.
"We’re calling on the governor to do the right thing," Warren added.
The governor removed Warren from office after Warren signed onto an open pledge – along with more than 80 prosecutors across the country – vowing not to prosecute people for abortion or gender-affirmation.
Warren said signing the letter did not amount to a blanket policy, and no case involving those issues had ever been brought to him.
Warren said he believes his suspension was a political stunt because his views didn’t line up with the governor's.
FOX 13's Gloria Gomez asked Warren if he regretted signing the pledge.
"No, not at all and [an] elected official should be transparent about what they stand for. Prosecutors should be transparent about what they stand for. As Americans, we don’t need a permission slip to exercise our constitutional rights and that’s exactly what I did," Warren said.
Warren said he does not have high hopes the governor will reinstate him, and is already planning his next legal move.
"[I am] still evaluating what the next steps are; whether continuing in federal court or state court or going to the Senate," he explained.
Warren was asked if he ever thinks about giving up. His reply was simple. "No."