Judge Will Decide Whether DeSantis Went Too Far in Ousting Prosecutor
The fast-tracked bench trial before Judge Robert L. Hinkle of the U.S. District Court in Tallahassee is expected to last from three to five days. The judge ruled last week that Mr. DeSantis, the defendant in the case, could not be called as a witness for Mr. Warren’s case in chief.
Mr. Warren’s lawyers could try to call Mr. DeSantis as a rebuttal witness, but Judge Hinkle, who was appointed to the federal bench by President Bill Clinton, indicated last week that he would probably not grant such a request.
The losing side in the case is expected to appeal.
Internal texts, emails and other records obtained by Mr. Warren’s defense lawyers ahead of the trial, as well as depositions of some of Mr. DeSantis’s top aides, showed how the administration had quietly built its case for suspending Mr. Warren for months — and had considered how removing him from office would play in the public eye.
Suspending Mr. Warren “is likely to increase Warren’s profile,” read a chart listing “drawbacks” for the various actions the governor could take. Under “benefits,” the chart read: “A leftist prosecutor is removed from a position of power.”
The day before Mr. DeSantis announced Mr. Warren’s suspension, the governor’s press secretary at the time, Christina Pushaw, wrote on Twitter: “Prepare for the liberal media meltdown of the year.”
Mr. Warren, who was in his second term as the chief prosecutor for the 13th Judicial Circuit, testified on Tuesday that he had had no idea he was going to be removed from office.
He was overseeing a grand jury proceeding in Hillsborough County, where Tampa is located, on Aug. 4 when he received an email informing him of his suspension. Before reviewing the details, he went back to his office. A few minutes later, Larry Keefe, the governor’s public safety czar, and two sheriff’s deputies knocked on his door.