Suspended State Attorney Andrew Warren has 15 days to request Florida Senate hearing

The Florida Senate has given suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren 15 days to request a Senate hearing that could determine whether he is reinstated or removed from office. 

The Senate sent a letter Monday,  stemming from Gov. Ron DeSantis’ move Aug. 4 to suspend Warren. DeSantis cited a pledge by the twice-elected state attorney to not enforce a new law preventing abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. 

Warren was among 90 prosecutors from across the country that signed on to the pledge after Roe v. Wade was overturned by the US Supreme Court. The governor also points towards Warren’s commitment not to criminalize minors who have sex change operations.

"There is no issue before my desk regarding abortion, gender-affirming healthcare, in fact, the abortion law in question has been ruled unconstitutional, and the transgender statement there’s no law on the books," Warren said. "This is Orwellian thought police where I’m being punished for not enforcing the law that doesn’t even exist. It’s hard to fathom."

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Warren, a Democrat, has vowed to fight DeSantis’ effort to ultimately remove him from office, with the Senate having authority under state law to hold a hearing and make a decision. 

"If you request a hearing, you will receive a notice of hearing before a special master or committee containing the date, time, and location of the hearing," Debbie Brown, secretary of the Senate, wrote in the certified letter Monday to Warren. "If you do not wish to have a hearing, you may submit your resignation to the governor’s office." 

Warren will have 15 days to respond from when he receives the letter. Brown also wrote that a Senate process would be held in "abeyance" if Warren decides to launch a court challenge.

The governor has since appointed Hillsborough County Judge Susan Lopez to serve in Warren's place. She has reversed several enforcement policies that were put in place by Warren, including the controversial bike-stop policy opponents accused of being racist.

MORE: Newly appointed Hillsborough state attorney reverses controversial bike-stop policy

Lopez served 17 years as a prosecutor at the Hillsborough state attorney's office, the same office she is now in charge of. 

In a memo sent to her employees this week, Lopez wrote, "effective immediately, any policy my predecessor put in place that called for presumptive non-enforcement of the laws of Florida is immediately rescinded. This includes the bike stop and pedestrian stop policy."

When Warren was asked if he had ever seen a case where a governor removes a twice-elected state attorney, he responded with a smirk and quipped. 

"Yes, in Russia and Venezuela in North Korea I’m sure it happens all the time," he said. "This is totally unprecedented for America."

Warren said he is putting together his legal team and expects to have a legal response soon.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report