TAMPA, Fla. — It’s a new day in the Tampa prosecutor’s office. Criminal matters hereabouts may be returning to what passes for normal in these anything-but-normal times. Honest residents have reason to be glad.
Interim Hillsborough County State Attorney Susan Lopez, appointed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to fill the post of Andrew Warren (whom DeSantis suspended for failing to prosecute state laws he didn’t like), said she plans to get the prosecutor’s office “back to basics. The legislature makes the law and we, as prosecutors, enforce it.”
Lopez, who worked in the Tampa State Attorney’s office from 2005 until last December when DeSantis appointed her a Hillsborough County judge, told her staff Monday, “I told the governor that I know the men and women of this agency because I served with you.” She encouraged her attorneys, many of whom were dissatisfied serving under Warren, “to return to the basic principle of prosecutorial discretion, based on each case’s facts and the applicable law … We will not surrender our ethical and legal duties to think tanks or advocacy groups. We will be prosecutors who partner with law enforcement, advocate for crime victims, and follow the law.”
This is a sound understanding of the role of prosecutors and of the job which they swear an oath to perform. But it is not the approach of Warren and other Soros-backed prosecutors across the nation who refuse to enforce laws inconsistent with their left-wing politics. (READ MORE: Fighting Crime the Soros Way)
The list of state laws that Warren had declined to enforce and which are once again actionable include laws against trespassing at a business location, disorderly conduct, disorderly intoxication, prostitution, and resisting arrest without violence. Warren also declined to seek mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes. But what finally moved DeSantis to remove Warren from office was the letter signed by Warren and other woke prosecutors across the nation pledging not to enforce laws restricting abortion or restricting sex change surgery for minors. Florida law prohibits abortions after 15 weeks and violators could face prison terms.
Florida’s Constitution allows the governor to suspend public officials, even elected ones like prosecutors, for certain forms of non-performance of duty. Suspensions are heard by the Florida Senate, which is currently majority Republican and, it’s an understatement to say, far more law-and-order in its approach than Warren. The Senate will almost certainly turn the suspension into a firing.
In his executive order suspending Warren for “neglect of duty,” DeSantis defines this offense as “failure on the part of a public officer to do and perform some duty or duties laid on him as such by virtue of his office or which is required of him by law.”
Warren isn’t going quietly. He says he’ll contest his sacking, claiming that he was “illegally” removed from office because he has different views on abortion and LGBTQ matters. This is obviously immaterial, as Warren may have any views he wishes on these or any other matters so long as he enforces state law. And in his public comments, Warren avoids mentioning his blanket refusal to enforce certain state laws he doesn’t like. He does bang on about several irrelevancies, including the tedious but required “Ron DeSantis is trying to overthrow democracy in Florida. His plot to suspend me blatantly violates the most fundamental basis of our democracy.” The usual Democrat suspects support Warren in his non-defense.
Considering the fact that Warren believes Florida is plagued by bad state laws, which he feels free to ignore, perhaps instead of trying to get his prosecutor’s job back, he should run for a seat in the state legislature, the proper forum for deciding which laws the state’s residents must abide by and that prosecutors are sworn to enforce.
Warren’s derelictions and his well-deserved fate may seem like small beer compared to the sorry scenes we witnessed from Mar-a-Largo this week (about which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republican heavies seem to have taken a vow of silence). But Andrew Warren, along with the many other “criminal justice reformers” in prosecutors’ offices across the nation who seem to care more for the comfort and convenience of criminals than for the safety of their law-abiding constituents, is helping make Americans’ homes and streets increasingly unsafe.
Warren’s suspension was not just the result of a political spat, as Democrats have tried to style it. It was an important, substantive, and totally justified action. DeSantis is right on this one. Warren and the Democrats who enable him are wrong. It’s the job of local prosecutors to enforce state laws. It’s the job of state governors to see that they do. If more governors would arrange for more non-prosecutors to be escorted out of their offices, honest Americans could sleep better at night.