Democratic prosecutor suspended by DeSantis asks court to put her back

Gov. Ron DeSantis had support from some law enforcement officials, including Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, when he announced his suspension of prosecutor Monique Worrell in August.

TALLAHASSEE – An attorney for an elected Democratic prosecutor in Central Florida, removed by Gov. Ron DeSantis for what he called her “political agenda,” argued Wednesday before the state Supreme Court that justices should reinstate Monique Worrell to her position. 

DeSantis has turned Worrell’s ouster in August, coming a year after he similarly suspended Democratic Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren, into a major part of his now-underdog campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. 

DeSantis has promoted his actions as proof of his tough approach to law and order. 

In a recent debate, the governor pledged that, if elected to the White House, he would go after “left-wing, Soros-funded prosecutors,” linking Warren and Worrell, without evidence, to George Soros, the billionaire Democratic investor and frequent target of conservative and antisemitic tropes. 

Warren and Worrell were both suspended after records showed DeSantis directed staff to search for prosecutors who could be portrayed as going easy on criminals. 

Warren is still appealing his suspension in federal court. Worrell, who was the state’s lone Black elected state attorney, said outside the court following arguments Wednesday that much was riding on her case. 

Presidential campaign was motive, Worrell says

She also focused on DeSantis. 

“If you are running for president, you will do things, you will enact certain laws, you will appoint certain individuals in furthering of your presidential campaign, even if it directly conflicts with your duty to protect and serve the people of this state,” Worrell said. 

In court, Laura Ferguson, attorney for Worrell, argued that DeSantis had no legitimate grounds for issuing an executive order removing her as state attorney for Orange and Osceola counties. 

“The order does not allege any conduct by Ms. Worrell that even if proven at a Senate trial would constitute neglect of duty or incompetence,” Ferguson

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