Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news from Florida for working families since 2007


Gov DeSantis Removes Another Elected State Atty FACDL: "Governor Exceeded His Authority"

Anthony Warren & Monique Worrell
Photos: Anthony Warren – Monique Worrell | Columbia County Observer graphic

Recently, on the campaign trail, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis claimed that he would end the weaponization of government. The Governor’s politically-motivated and hypocritical suspension of the State Attorney for the 9th Judicial Circuit, Monique Worrell, is another example of his continued abuse of power against democratically-elected officials who refuse to yield to his demands.

This alarming use of the Governor’s power effectively disenfranchises the voters in Orange and Osceola Counties, who overwhelmingly elected Worrell to office with 67% of the vote in 2020.

The Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers denounces the suspension and warns that the Governor’s interference with the criminal justice system upsets the work of both prosecutors and defense attorneys who work tirelessly to protect the rights of all Floridians.

Gov. DeSantis is once again exceeding his authority. He has disregarded the will of the people in an effort to make a personal political splash.

Each of Florida's 20 elected state attorneys has broad discretion in choosing which cases to prosecute. Under the Governor's flawed logic, any elected prosecutor could be removed for exercising discretion in seeking not to prosecute or not to seek maximum sentences in circumstances they are uniquely situated to evaluate.

The consequences of State Attorney Worrell's replacement, Andrew Bain, are already apparent, as the stench of hypocrisy carries over in his claim of a return to prosecutorial discretion in handling their office's cases.

Shortly after being anointed by the Governor, Orange County State Attorneys were ordered to cease utilizing any of the office's internally-created diversion programs. Offers to resolve cases are already being revoked, causing a further backup in our already overloaded criminal courts. The Governor should place his faith in the will of the voters, allow elected prosecutors to do their jobs and respect the will of voters regarding the state attorneys they elect.

Monique Worrell is a duly elected Constitutional Officer of the State of Florida and, as such, has discretion granted to elected prosecutors by the Florida Constitution and by Florida Statutes.

Elected prosecutors answer only to voters and do not have to seek approval from the Governor to make decisions regarding their offices. Governor DeSantis' suspension of State Attorney Monique Worrell is unwarranted and unlawful. State Attorneys are Constitutional officers who take an oath, just like the Governor, to defend the Constitutions of the United States and The State of Florida. Governor DeSantis should let them follow their oath.

Luke Newman is the president of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He is one of fewer than 70 Florida attorneys board certified by the Florida Bar in criminal appeals.

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