Governor Seeks Protective Order Exempting Him From Being Deposed in Lawsuit Filed by Suspended State Attorney Andrew Warren
Florida - Monday October 2022: Governor DeSantis has asked a federal Judge to exempt him from testifying in the law suit filed against him by suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren.
In their request for a protective order, DeSantis’ lawyers argue that neither the governor nor his chief of staff, James Uthmeier, should have to submit to questioning under oath. The motion was filed last Thursday.
The Governor suspended Warren on August 4 for what he called Warren's "neglect of duty" after he signed a pledge with other prosecutors around the county who said they would not pursue cases related to abortion or transgender healthcare. The Governor has the authority to suspend a state officer for neglect of duty, among other reasons.
In suspending Warren DeSantis said - “State Attorneys have a duty to prosecute crimes as defined in Florida law, not to pick and choose which laws to enforce based on his personal agenda.”
Warren, who has twice been elected State Attorney by the Voters of Hillsborough County, filed a lawsuit on August 17 seeking to get his job back. His lawyers want DeSantis to give a deposition to justify the suspension.
“The governor is the best source of information on why the governor suspended Mr. Warren," said Warren's defense attorney Jean-Jacques Cabou, "The governor has talked about it at length on TV. We continue to think it is appropriate that the governor talk about it under oath.”
In the Motion for a Protective Order, the Governor's attorneys argue - "Far more must be shown before a plaintiff may subject high-ranking government officers to burdensome depositions that distract from their important duties, like responding to the aftermath of a Category Four hurricane," and "Mr. Warren can no more depose the Governor and his Chief of Staff than a plaintiff suing President Biden ... could depose the President or his Chief of Staff."
The Governor's attorneys maintain that Warren must establish that this is an "'extraordinary' case in which a high-ranking official holds evidence that is not 'available from alternate' sources." They argue that Warren "has not met that burden" and "though he seeks to probe the Governor’s motives for suspending him, he has not tapped the well of witnesses and documents that shed light on that information."
Warren maintains that “the Governor has broken two laws ... he has violated the first amendment by retaliating against me for something that I said. And he’s violated the Florida constitution by abusing his power to overturn an election and remove an elected official from office without any real justification.”
The case is scheduled to go to trial November 29.