TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis is petitioning a federal court to do a full court review in the case of suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren. 

What You Need To Know

  • Gov. Ron DeSantis is challenging an appeals court ruling ordered a lower court to reconsider the case filed by former State Attorney Andrew Warren 

  • The ruling empowered a federal court to remedy or reinstate suspended Warren, who DeSantis suspended as Hillsborough County State Attorney

  • The DeSantis administration asserts the ruling "undermines state law"

  • Attorneys for DeSantis are seeking a full court review of the case

The administration is requesting the full court’s consideration this time, rather than the participation of a three-judge panel.

DeSantis’ petition comes after a federal appeals court in early January instructed a judge serving in a lower Tallahassee-based federal court to reconsider the case.

In the ruling, the appeals court agreed that DeSantis violated Warren’s First Amendment rights by suspending him. However, they disagreed with U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle on a separate yet pivotal opinion — saying that Hinkle was incorrect and alternatively does possess the power to remedy and reinstate Warren. 

DeSantis suspended Warren — a Democrat — on alleged grounds of “neglect of duty” and a “blanket refusal to enforce criminal laws” in August 2022. In public statements and court documents, DeSantis said he suspended Warren after he signed a statement pledging to resist criminal charges against abortion seekers and providers, as well as those providing gender transition treatment. 

Warren subsequently sued, sparking a yearlong legal battle.

“The panel opinion strikes an unprecedented blow against a state’s sovereign interest in managing its officials and ensuring the faithful execution of its laws,” wrote attorneys for DeSantis in the petition. 

Warren’s legal team, however, maintains DeSantis violated Warren’s First Amendment rights. They’ve also described Warren’s suspension as a political stunt designed to promote the governor’s national reputation. 

“The panel’s decision two weeks ago followed settled law and reached the right outcome," said David Singer, an attorney representing Warren. “The governor’s only hope at this point is to delay and try to run out the clock on the remainder of Mr. Warren’s term. With every one of these filings, he further demonstrates his disrespect for the voters of Florida.”

Among the state’s complaints is that the appeals court “erred” in classifying Warren’s pledge not to prosecute abortion cases as “protected speech.” In the filing, they warned that the ruling against Warren’s suspension is comparable to allowing a prison warden to remain in their position while they simultaneously protest “mass incarceration” and threaten to release violent inmates.  

DeSantis' attorneys claimed that the opinion upends a “state’s ability to supervise wayward officials who undermine state laws by promising not to enforce them."

They continued, saying the opinion transforms “the First Amendment from a shield against government oppression into a sword against a governor’s disciplinary decisions.”

Warren served as state attorney for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, encompassing all of Hillsborough County. He announced in January plans not to seek reelection, though the announcement came before the latest court rulings.