Andrew Warren’s Florida: Where the Law Doesn’t Apply - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Andrew Warren’s Florida: Where the Law Doesn’t Apply
Sacked Tampa prosecutor Andrew Warren (10 Tampa Bay/YouTube)

Tampa — We’re getting a clearer picture of why Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sacked Tampa State Attorney Andrew Warren. We’re also getting another clear look into the judicial philosophy of George Soros–backed Warren and others like him in blue jurisdictions. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, with one hand over his heart and the other with fingers crossed behind his back, piously croons that “no person is above the law” in his and President Joe Biden’s America. This is complete balloon juice. (In practice and in plain English, it just means, “Get Trump!”)

Any halfway attentive observer knows that those such as Hillary Clinton, Hunter Biden, BLM rioters, Paul Pelosi, and even the Big Guy himself are so far above the law that they would need clearance to land. But these villains are not the only privileged characters allowed to skate. In big, blue cities across the land, entire categories of potential voters whose support is critical for the survival of the Democratic Party are given get-out-of-jail-free cards for a host of offenses others would be held accountable for.

What finally moved DeSantis to cashier Warren earlier this month was Warren’s declaration that he wouldn’t enforce Florida’s laws against abortion after 15 weeks. Warren also said that he wouldn’t prosecute offenders of any laws against sex-change surgery for minors. But before Warren decided to nullify state law in these controversial areas, he had quite a list of laws that a “presumption of non-prosecution” policy covered. (Nice phrase, that. It’s almost as dishonest as the “Inflation Reduction Act” or the “Affordable Care Act.”)

Chief among the nonviolent offenses Warren refused to prosecute was driving with a suspended license. He bragged to the Tampa Bay Times that his office had dismissed 7,000 such cases in his first term. He called it his “proudest achievement.” Some achievement. Makes a body wonder why judges bother to determine that certain drivers should not be behind the wheel, for a host of different reasons, if local prosecutors refuse to prosecute driving without a license.

Warren also declined to prosecute arrests for other traffic misdemeanors, disorderly conduct, intoxication, panhandling, and prostitution. These crimes, and they are crimes, may be nonviolent. But, if allowed to fester, they certainly degrade the quality of life for those who don’t indulge in these practices and must live and conduct business around those who do. This is why the Florida State Legislature made them crimes. And it’s not the prerogative of local prosecutors to unmake them.

The excuse given by Warren for attempting to void these laws is that the offenders were mostly poor and black. So, they shouldn’t be held to standards. Expecting this population to exercise any level of personal responsibility, the thinking (if you want to call it that) goes, would be racist and a form of “discrimination,” a word that now has lost all meaning through political abuse. I wish I could remember who called this approach “the bigotry of low expectations.”

It’s no surprise that Warren’s form of identity justice finds favor among those who share space with Warren on the political and cultural left. Melba Pearson, a member of something called the Center for the Administration of Justice at Florida Atlantic University and a former deputy director of the Florida American Civil Liberties Union, calls Warren’s no-prosecute list “crimes of poverty.” It doesn’t seem to occur to her that some folks may find themselves in poverty because they break the law.

State Rep. Diane Hart of Tampa, a Democrat who is black and represents many of Tampa’s poor and black neighborhoods, is a fan of Warren’s approach. She says she’s seen too many “families of color” hurt by the long-term effects of nonviolent-misdemeanor arrests. “For far too long, we’re always the ones who have been targeted,” she complained, without explaining how the lives of poor and black people are improved by their being told that the laws everyone else must abide by do not apply to them.

Hart and Hillsborough County (Tampa) Sheriff Brad Chronister are not of one mind on this matter. Chronister has been critical of Warren’s non-prosecution approach. In a letter to Warren, Chronister said, “By unilaterally stating you are not going to prosecute, you are failing to hold individuals accountable for their actions, which only empowers them to commit additional crimes.”

The argument will go on, of course, but Warren’s policies won’t. Current State Attorney Susan S. Lopez, appointed by DeSantis to take the job Warren wasn’t doing, has declared that state law is making a comeback in Tampa and Hillsborough County. The “presumption of non-prosecution” days are over. So, the word is getting out hereabouts. Pay your court fines, get an up-to-date auto tag, don’t drive if your license is suspended, don’t hustle on the street corners, don’t panhandle. And get that taillight fixed. As Dandy Don might have phrased it, “The party’s over.”

Larry Thornberry
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Larry Thornberry is a writer in Tampa.
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