Florida

The suspended Florida prosecutor is fighting DeSantis on the opening day of the federal trial

However, Keefe, who took the stand later in the day, provided some of the most revealing testimony, saying he was the “main reason” Warren was suspended. His investigation began after DeSantis asked during a December 2021 meeting if there were any Florida prosecutors who are not enforcing the law.

Keefe claimed during his testimony that Warren “crossed the line” for signing the abortion statements – and another said he would not prosecute anyone for providing gender-affirming care to transgender patients, even though the state has no criminal statutes who deal with it . Florida approved a rule banning gender-affirming treatment for minors a few months after Warren’s suspension.

“This was not an isolated case,” said Keefe, a former US attorney who also led the DeSantis administration’s controversial resettlement of migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard. He said those statements about Warren were part of a “very problematic” trend from the ousted prosecutor. “I was adamant that he had to be suspended.”

But Keefe admitted on the witness stand several times that he never called Warren directly or communicated with anyone in Warren’s office to inquire about the prosecutor’s testimony. Warren and two senior officials who still work at the DA’s office said there is no blanket policy against prosecuting abortion or gender-affirming cases and they have not handled such prosecutions. Warren’s team even took note of a written policy directing prosecutors to review individual cases.

Keefe, who said he conducted a review of Warren’s actions but not an actual “investigation,” brushed aside the written guidelines. Instead, he claimed Warren was a “district attorney whose approach to his job was damaging” and that he was hostile to law enforcement, an opinion based on conversations he had with several people, including the current Hillsborough sheriff and former Tampa Police Chief.

Warren had adopted policies against prosecuting low-level crimes such as trespassing and unlawful poisoning, or advancing charges from first police encounters where a pedestrian or bicyclist was stopped for a noncriminal violation.

Keefe went so far as to claim that Tampa had problems with “violent” and “rampant crime” and that keeping Warren on the job would result in “chaos”.

The Florida Constitution gives the governor the power to suspend elected officials for a variety of reasons, including dereliction of duty and misconduct or the commission of a felony. Previous governors have primarily suspended arrested local officials, but DeSantis has elected to use the suspension powers more broadly. He first used it to remove Scott Israel, the Broward County Sheriff, over his office’s response to the Parkland shooting. Under the Constitution, a suspended officer may seek reinstatement through the Florida Senate.

However, Warren chose to fight the governor in federal court, a move that caught DeSantis’ own legal team off guard, according to testimonies filed before the trial began. Warren spent most of his time on the stand discussing his office’s operations โ€” as well as his stance on abortion and gender-affirming care, and why he chose to sign statements issued by an advocacy group called Fair and Just Prosecution. The organization bills itself as a group that brings together local prosecutors who encourage changes to the criminal justice system, but has come under fire from conservatives for being linked to a group that receives funds from billionaire donor George Soros.

Warren defended the abortion statement by saying he was more concerned about sweeping abortion bans and said he supported the gender-affirming care statement by saying he opposed discrimination against trans youth.

Just before entering the federal courthouse Tuesday morning, Warren told reporters that “there’s so much more at stake than my job. We’re not just fighting for me to do the job I was chosen to do. We fight for the right of voters across Florida to have the elected officials of their choice. We fight for freedom of expression, the integrity of our elections and the values โ€‹โ€‹of our democracy.โ€

During the opening remarks, Warren’s attorneys cited documents and tweets from the governor’s staff, including one from then-press secretary Christina Pushaw, who wrote the night before Warren’s suspension, “Prepare for the Liberal meltdown of the year.” George Levesque, an attorney for one The private law firm supporting the governor’s defense responded in his opening statement that Pushaw was put in the “literal woodshed” by DeSantis for her tweet.

Levesque argued that DeSantis had legitimate reasons for suspending Warren because his decision to sigh the abortion and gender-affirming care statements was “tantamount to a functional veto” of state law.

The process should take at least two days. Warren wants US District Judge Robert Hinkle to resume his job and issue an injunction against the DeSantis executive order that suspended him.

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