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Gov. DeSantis won't have to testify at trial of suspended Hillsborough state attorney Andrew Warren

Split photo of two men in suits speaking at microphones. In the left photo, there's a seal over the man's shoulder. In the right photo, two other men stand in the background.
Chris O'Meara
This combination of photos shows Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, right, and Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren, left, in Tampa, after DeSantis suspended Warren. Warren vowed to fight his suspension over his promise not to enforce the state's 15-week abortion ban and support for gender transition treatments for minors.

The governor claims Andrew Warren neglected his duty by refusing to prosecute certain crimes. Warren said it's an attack on his First Amendment right to free speech.

Gov. Ron DeSantis will not have to appear at next week's trial over his suspension of Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle said Wednesday that he'll grant a motion saying the governor doesn't have to testify.

Warren is suing to get his job back after DeSantis suspended him in August for signing a pledge saying he wouldn't prosecute certain crimes.

But Hinkle said Warren's attorneys could ask him later to reconsider having the governor appear.

"As things now stand, the governor's not going to be testifying," Hinkle said during a pretrial conference. "And I guess I should tell both sides I think it's very unlikely that the situation would change."

DeSantis suspended Warren for "neglect of duty" after he signed a pledge not to prosecute cases involving abortion or transgender health care.

Warren filed a lawsuit, claiming DeSantis exceeded his powers and violated Warren's First Amendment right to free speech.

“I’m not going down without a fight," Warren said in a video announcing he would seek legal action in September. "I’m a former federal prosecutor, the duly elected State Attorney, a native Floridian, and a proud American. I refuse to let this man trample on your freedoms to speak your mind, to make your own healthcare decisions, and to have your vote count.”

The suspension drew a strong response from judges, police chiefs, and legal scholars across the state who filed amicus briefs in support of Warren.

Warren is a Democrat who was elected twice by Hillsborough voters. He narrowly unseated the longtime county prosecutor Mark Ober in 2016, and won with 53% of the vote in 2020.

Warren had signed onto public statements with about 80 other prosecutors from across the country, supporting gender transition treatments for children and standing against making it a crime for a person to have an abortion.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.