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Appeals Court Rules Suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren Can Be Reinstated

Florida - January 10, 2024: Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren has won a major legal victory, and Governor DeSantis a major setback, after the U.S. Court of Appeals in Georgia vacated the Florida District Court’s opinion that the federal court had no power to interfere with state law regarding his suspension by the Governor.

In a news release Warren says the decision vindicates his position that the Governor violated federal law by suspending him in August of 2022.

Warren said he looks forward to returning to the Florida District Court to get the relief he was denied 17 months ago. That relief is reinstatement to the position he was elected to, Hillsborough County State attorney.

In sending the case back to the Florida Northern District Court the Georgia Appeals Court concluded that federal courts can remedy First Amendment violations, and they have the authority to reinstate Warren to his position.

There has been no reaction from the Governor's Office yet to the decision.

READ the news release from Warren in FULL below:

 Federal appellate court finds Warren’s statements protected by First Amendment and lower court has authority to reinstate him 

Tampa, FL (January 10, 2024) – Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren – and the voters of Hillsborough County - won a major legal victory today as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit vacated and remanded the District Court’s opinion regarding the illegal suspension by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Today’s decision vindicates the arguments made by Warren’s legal team that have been at the core of their case—that Warren was duly elected by the voters to serve as State Attorney and that the governor violated federal law when he was suspended from office in August of 2022. 

“This is what we’ve been fighting for from the beginning—the protection of democracy. We look forward to returning to the District Court to obtain the relief that has been denied to me and all the voters of Hillsborough County for 17 months: reinstating the person elected by the voters,” Warren said, following today’s decision.
“The appellate court found that the First Amendment protects the rights of elected officials to share their views and opinions on important issues with voters. That’s what State Attorney Warren did,” said J Cabou, one of Warren’s lead attorneys from the law firm of Perkins Coie. “Further, the appellate court reiterated that the voters elected Mr. Warren to his post, and if alignment with the Governor’s political ideology is a prerequisite for holding elected office that there would be no point in having elections at all.”

In his January 20, 2023 decision, Judge Robert Hinkle in the Northern District of Florida, found that DeSantis broke federal law by suspending Warren in retaliation for Warren’s speech on matters of public importance and for his association with the Democratic Party, which violated Warren’s First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution. The court, however, wrote that it lacked the authority to reinstate Warren under the Eleventh Amendment.

In sending the case back to Judge Hinkle, the Court of Appeals wrote, “The Eleventh Amendment permits federal courts to remedy First Amendment violations”—clearly explaining that Judge Hinkle has the authority to reinstate Warren.

The case will now return to Judge Hinkle to make a new finding under the parameters laid out in today’s opinion.