Hinkle denied a preliminary injunction to reinstate Warren, but he refused to dismiss the governor's attempt to dismiss the lawsuit and instead decided it would go forward to trial. He set the trial date for Nov. 29.
Warren's legal team identified several potential witnesses for the trial, including DeSantis himself, his chief of staff James Uthmeier, then-Press Secretary Christina Pushaw, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, and "three Florida sheriffs who spoke at the campaign rally-like press conference where the suspension was announced."
Though Warren's announcement did not identify the sheriffs, DeSantis' August press conference announcing Warren's suspension took place at the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, with Sheriff Chad Chronister, Polk Sheriff Grady Judd, and Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco speaking in support of the governor's move.
DeSantis had made the suspension announcement on Aug. 4, citing Warren's pledge to not enforce the state's 15-week abortion ban and his vow to not criminalize minors seeking a sex change operation, which is not state law.
Warren argued DeSantis violated his right to free speech by removing him from his elected position.
Read the judge's full order below (mobile users: click here to read)
In his order, Judge Hinkle confirmed this is a First Amendment case, with the trial determining whether DeSantis violated Warren's free speech rights.
"Under Florida’s system of government, a state attorney is an elected, constitutional officer. Although serving in the executive branch, a state attorney is not an employee of, or supervised by, the governor," the judge wrote. "The Governor was not Mr. Warren’s boss and had no right to dictate how Mr. Warren did his job -- whom he hired, what policies he adopted, or any of the myriad other policy matters a state attorney must address. As the Florida Supreme Court has put it, ‘the power to remove is not analogous to the power to control.’"
When DeSantis issued his suspension, he accused Warren of having policies of presumptive non-enforcement of certain laws.
"We are going to make sure that our laws are enforced and that no individual prosecutor puts himself above the law," DeSantis said the day he made the announcement.
However, the judge appeared to disagree that Warren's pledges on abortion and transgender youth amounted to official actions.
"This case arises from the Florida Governor’s suspension of an elected State Attorney ostensibly for announcing he would not prosecute cases of certain kinds," Hinkle wrote in his order. "The Governor has not identified a single case the State Attorney failed to prosecute."
"When the facts are known, the case could come out either way," the judge wrote.