Chief Tampa, Fl., prosecutor Andrew Warren was waiting for a grand jury to issue indictments in two rape and murder cases he had been working on for three years when he saw an email from an attorney for Gov. Ron DeSantis. It said he was suspended from his job. Seven minutes later, "I was outside, on the street," Warren says. " The major offered me a ride home because they took my car.” The dramatic ouster has alarmed many in Florida, who say DeSantis usurped the will of the voters by removing a twice-elected local official who disagreed with him politically, reports the Washington Post. Warren had initiated police reforms unpopular with law enforcement officers, and pledged not to use his office to “criminalize” health care, including prosecuting women who get abortions and people seeking gender-affirming medical treatments.
DeSantis excoriated Warren for being a “woke” prosecutor more interested in social justice than in enforcing the law. He warned of a “pathogen” spreading in U.S. cities — progressive prosecutors trying to reduce incarceration rates they see as overly punitive and that disproportionately affect people of color. He said prosecutors like Warren have caused “catastrophic results” in other states. “We are not going to let that get a foothold here in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said. The clash comes as political parties pay more attention to prosecutor elections and as prosecutors are faced with new laws restricting or outright banning abortion after the fall of Roe v. Wade. For Warren, who left a job as a federal prosecutor to run for office in his home state, the suspension was the latest in a series of dust-ups with the governor. He said he was not planning to ignore the law, only that he planned to exercise prosecutorial discretion. “My job is about anything I can do to make our city safer and our system more fair,” he said. “That is much broader in the terms of the spectrum of criminal justice.” Alissa Marque Heydari of the Institute for Innovation in Prosecution at John Jay College of Criminal Justice said there has been an uptick in state legislators and governors attacking reform prosecutors.