Gov. DeSantis suspends Orlando-area State Attorney

DeSantis cites negligence and incompetence for Worrell suspension
Published: Aug. 9, 2023 at 9:13 AM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV/Gray Florida Capital Bureau) - Governor Ron DeSantis is suspending Orlando’s top prosecutor, claiming she neglected her duties.

9th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Monique Worrell is the second elected State Attorney DeSantis has removed from office in the last year.

Gov. DeSantis said he’s been investigating Worrell after a television news reporter and a 9-year-old were shot and killed in Orlando.

DeSantis claims Worrell failed to hold the suspect accountable despite his criminal record and alleged gang affiliation, claiming she was too soft on criminals in Orange and Osceola counties.

“Florida is a law and order state,” DeSantis said.

During a news conference announcing the suspension Wednesday, DeSantis said Worrell avoided minimum mandatory sentences on gun crimes, drug trafficking and child pornography.

“Refusing to faithfully enforce the laws of Florida puts our communities in danger and victimizes innocent Floridians,” the governor said.

Worrell’s suspension comes after two Orlando police officers were shot over the weekend. Police have said that suspect also has an extensive criminal history.

“We had a duty to act to protect the public from this clear neglection of duty,” Gov. DeSantis said.

Worrell fought back against those accusations during a news conference in Orlando.

“People are now more protected than ever under my leadership for the last three years,” Worrell said.

Worrell and other Democrats said her removal was political and not about her performance.

“There used to be a standard that I would’ve had to be criminally prosecuted for something, neglecting my duties meaning I don’t show up for work and do my job,” Worrell said.

The governor appointed Orange County judge Andrew Bain to replace Worrell.

Tallahassee-area State Attorney Jack Campbell, Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association president, said all State Attorneys will work to maintain justice in Florida.

“All 19 of your state attorneys will work together with the new state attorney so public safety is maintained, and that we will continue to strive to find justice,” Campbell said.

Last year, DeSantis removed Tampa-area State Attorney Andrew Warren after he signed pledges saying he would not charge people over abortion or gender transition treatments.

A Federal appeals court will decide if he can be reinstated.

Worrell says she plans to also fight her removal.

The Florida Senate will decide if the suspension stands.

In a letter to senators today, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo said that process would be on hold if Worrell challenges the suspension in court.