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Current and Former Judges and Prosecutors File Friend of the Court Brief in Support of Suspended Hillsborough County Prosecutor Andrew Warren

DeSantis - Warren.jpg
WQCS file
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State leaders served on Florida’s 1997–98 Constitution Revision Commission

Tampa - Friday September 2, 2022: More than sixty current and former judges and prosecutors from across the nation have signed a friend of the court brief in support of suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren.

Among them are Members of Florida’s 1997–98 Constitution Revision Commission who approved the section of the Florida Constitution used by Gov. Ron DeSantis to suspend State Warren.

The brief, filed with the Northern District Court in Tallahassee, argues that “the Governor’s allegations are nowhere near sufficient” to meet the high standard for suspending an elected official which they laid out when they revised that portion of the state constitution 25 years ago.

The governor’s power is not “arbitrary”—it is “guarded by constitutional limitations which should be strictly followed,” states the memo.

“If Governors were permitted to suspend State Attorneys because of their prosecutorial priorities and replace them with attorneys whose priorities mirror their own, Florida’s electoral process for the office of State Attorney—and potentially all elected state officers—would be virtually meaningless,” they added.

HIGHLIGHTS

* Among the more than 60 judges, prosecutors, and legal scholars are three former Florida Supreme Court justices. They argue that suspending Warren “erodes confidence in the administration of justice” by ousting the voters’ twice-elected choice and limiting his independent judgment to do the job he was elected to do.

*The brief maintains that DeSantis’ order creates the risk that any state attorney can be suspended if a governor disagrees with the priorities of the state attorney and the voters; it would have chilling effect on prosecutorial independence and “strip communities of their prerogative” to elect leaders who will exercise judgment in way communities want.

* "Prosecutorial independence—the authority to decide whom and what to charge and how to use inherently limited resources—is a hallmark of our legal system and the pursuit of justice. No prosecutor has the resources to pursue every violation of the law, nor should they endeavor to do so. In carrying out those weighty decisions around the use of limited resources, elected prosecutors are ethically bound to pursue just results, protect fundamental rights, and serve as ministers of justice in their communities," they wrote.

* While DeSantis cited Warren’s value statements on abortion and gender-affirming care as reasons to suspend him, the academics explain that those statements are “consistent with State Attorney Warren’s professional duty to actively participate in efforts which he believes stimulate reform or improvement of the criminal justice system.”

Read the list below of current and former judges and prosecutors who signed the brief

Harry Lee Anstead
Former Chief Justice, Supreme Court, Florida
Former Chief Judge, Fourth District Court of Appeal, Florida

Barbara Pariente
Former Chief Justice, Supreme Court, Florida
Former Judge, Fourth District Court of Appeal, Florida

Peggy Quince
Chief Justice (Ret.), Supreme Court, Florida
Former Judge, Second District Court of Appeal, Florida

A. Lee Bentley III
Former U.S. Attorney, Middle District of Florida
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney, Middle District of Florida
Former Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, Southern District of Florida
Former Attorney Advisor, Office of Legal Counsel, U.S. Department of Justice

E.J. Salcines
Former Judge, Second District Court of Appeal, Florida
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney and Criminal Division Chief, Middle District of Florida
Former State Attorney, 13th Judicial Circuit (Hillsborough County), Florida
Former President, Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association
Former Vice President, National District Attorneys Association

Neal R. Sonnett
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney and Criminal Division Chief, Southern District of Florida
Former Chair, ABA Criminal Justice Section
Former President, American Judicature Society

O.H. Eaton Jr.
Former Chief Judge, 18th Judicial Circuit Court, Florida
Former Chair, Criminal Justice Section, Florida Conference of Circuit Judges
Former Chair, The Florida Bar Criminal Procedure Rules Committee
Former Chair, Supreme Court of Florida Criminal Court Steering Committee

Manuel Menendez, Jr.
Former Chief Judge, 13th Judicial Circuit (Hillsborough County), Florida
Former Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney, Middle District of Florida

Herbert M. Berkowitz
Judge (Ret.), 13th Judicial Circuit (Hillsborough County), Florida
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Ohio

William P. Levens
Judge (Ret.), 13th Judicial Circuit (Hillsborough County), Florida

Harry L. Shorstein
Former State Attorney, 4th Judicial Circuit (Jacksonville), Florida

Shay Bilchik
Former Chief Assistant State Attorney, Miami-Dade County, Florida
Former Associate Deputy Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice
Former Administrator, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice

Melba Pearson
Former Assistant State Attorney, Miami-Dade County, Florida
Former President, National Black Prosecutors Association

Roy L. Austin, Jr.
Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice
Former Deputy Assistant to President Obama for the Office of Urban Affairs, Justice, and Opportunity (White House Domestic Policy Council)

Larry Boone
Former Chief, Norfolk Police Department, Virginia

RaShall Brackney, Ph.D.
Former Chief, Charlottesville Police Department, Virginia

Joseph Brann
Former Chief, Hayward Police Department, California
Former Director, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, U.S. Department of Justice

Bobbe J. Bridge
Former Justice, Supreme Court, Washington

Jim Bueermann
Former Chief, Redlands Police Department, California
Former President, National Police Foundation

Chris Burbank
Former Chief, Salt Lake City Police Department, Utah
Director, Law Enforcement Strategy, Center for Policing Equity

Andrea J. Cabral
Former Assistant Attorney General, Massachusetts
Former Sheriff, Suffolk County, Massachusetts
Former President, Massachusetts Sheriffs Association
Former Assistant District Attorney, Suffolk County, Massachusetts
Former Assistant District Attorney, Middlesex County, Massachusetts

Doug Chin
Former Lieutenant Governor, Hawaii
Former Attorney General, Hawaii

Jerry Clayton
Sheriff, Washtenaw County (Ann Arbor), Michigan

Brendan Cox
Former Chief, Albany Police Department, New York

Neill Franklin
Former Major, Baltimore Police Department
Former Major, Maryland State Police
Former Executive Director, Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP)

William Royal Furgeson, Jr.
Former Judge, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas

Gil Garcetti
Former District Attorney, Los Angeles County, California

Stan Garnett
Former District Attorney, 20th Judicial District (Boulder), Colorado

Nancy Gertner
Former Judge, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts

Ronald Goldstock
Former Director, New York State Organized Crime Task Force, New York State Attorney General’s Office
Former Inspector General, U.S. Department of Labor
Former Chief, Rackets Bureau, New York County District Attorney’s Office
Former Chair, ABA Criminal Justice Section
Former Co-Chair, ABA Criminal Justice Section Ethics 2000 Committee
Former Chair, ABA Criminal Justice Standards Committee
Former Chair, ABA Criminal Justice Standards Committee, Investigative Function of the Prosecutor Task Force

Christian Gossett
Former District Attorney, Winnebago County, Wisconsin

Kristin Graziano
Sheriff, Charleston County, South Carolina

Joseph R. Grodin
Former Associate Justice, Supreme Court, California

Scott Harshbarger
Former Attorney General, Massachusetts
Former District Attorney, Middlesex County, Massachusetts

Ilene Jaroslaw
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney and General Crimes Chief, Eastern District of New York
Council Member, ABA Criminal Justice Section
Co-Chair, ABA Women in White Collar Committee

Justin F. Kollar
Former Prosecuting Attorney, County of Kaua’i, Hawaii

Scott Lassar
Former U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Illinois

Timothy K. Lewis
Former Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
Former Judge, U.S. District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania

Robert L. Listenbee
Former Administrator, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), U.S. Department of Justice

Patricia A. Madrid
Former Attorney General, New Mexico

Garry L. McFadden
Sheriff, Mecklenburg County (Charlotte), North Carolina

Michol O’Connor
Former Justice, First Judicial District Court of Appeals, Texas
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney, Southern District of Texas

Jerome O’Neill
Former U.S. Attorney, District of Vermont
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Vermont

Carmen M. Ortiz
Former U.S. Attorney, District of Massachusetts
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Massachusetts
Former Assistant District Attorney, Middlesex County, Massachusetts

Channing Phillips
Former U.S. Attorney, District of Columbia

Abdul D. Pridgen
Chief, San Leandro Police Department, California
Former Chief, Seaside Police Department, California

Ira Reiner
Former District Attorney, Los Angeles County, California
Former City Attorney, Los Angeles, California

Stephen Rosenthal
Former Attorney General, Virginia

Stephen Saltzburg
Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice

Shira A. Scheindlin
Former Judge, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York

Robert J. Spagnoletti
Former Attorney General, District of Columbia

Norm Stamper
Former Police Chief, Seattle Police Department, Washington

Darrel Stephens
Former Chief, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, North Carolina
Former Executive Director, Major City Chiefs Association

Tom Synan
Chief, Newton Police Department, Ohio

James Tierney
Former Attorney General, Maine

Laurence H. Tribe
Former Senior Counselor, Office of Access to Justice, U.S. Department of Justice

Anthony F. Troy
Former Attorney General, Virginia

Cyrus R. Vance
Former District Attorney, New York County (Manhattan), New York

John Walsh
Former U.S. Attorney, District of Colorado
Former Chair, Attorneys General’s Advisory Committee of U.S. Attorneys

Seth Waxman
Former Solicitor General, U.S. Department of Justice

Ronald Weich
Former Assistant District Attorney, New York County (Manhattan), New York
Former Special Counsel, United States Sentencing Commission, U.S. Department of Justice
Former Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legislative Affairs, U.S. Department of Justice