Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is doing all he can to avoid testifying in the federal lawsuit filed by former Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren.
Florida Solicitor General Henry Whitaker asked a federal judge to block Warren from calling either the Governor or his chief of staff, James Uthmeier.
The trial is scheduled for November 29th.
“Legislators ought not call unwilling judges to testify at legislative hearings about the reasons for specific judicial decisions, and courts ought not compel unwilling legislators to testify about the reasons for specific legislative votes,” Whitaker wrote. “The same goes for the State’s chief executive and his top executive aide.”
In the Motion to Bar Compelled Testimony, DeSantis’ legal team argues that the Governor isn’t a “regular” person, therefore shouldn’t be forced to testify.
“[DeSantis has] greater duties and time constraints than other witnesses,” his lawyers argued.
They also argued that their motion should be approved in order to “protect [those] officials from the constant distraction of testifying in lawsuits” — and to avoid unnecessarily offending the separation of powers by “[c]ompelling” their “personal appearance” in “judicial proceeding[s].”
In August, DeSantis suspended Warren after the State Attorney joined dozens of state attorneys vowing not to prosecute abortion providers or those seeking an abortion. Warren called Florida’s 15-week abortion ban — with no exceptions for rape or incest — “unconstitutional” and “arbitrary.”
The Hillsborough County prosecutor claims his removal was in violation of his First Amendment rights.
Discovery in the lawsuit uncovered attempts by DeSantis, and those working on his behalf, to downplay the reason Warren was removed.
Emails and text messages between members of the Governor’s administration, as well as handwritten notes on the Executive Order – detail a plot to use semantics to mislead the public and insinuate there were other reasons for running roughshod over the will of Hillsborough County voters.
Florida investigative reporter, Jason Garcia, tweeted receipts proving the duplicity of the DeSantis camp. Including handwritten notes by the Governor himself ordering his staff to list “non-abortion infractions,” first.
Contradicting depositions by administration staffers prove that the vindictive authoritarian specifically went after Warren because of his vocal opposition to the state’s abortion law – and that DeSantis tried to cover it up.
Attorneys for Warren pushed back on the case before U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle.
“Never before has the governor of Florida suspended an elected official for his protected speech, held a media event at which he gloated about it, appeared on Fox News to continue to gloat about it, campaigned around the country for like-minded candidates while gloating about it, and then run away from court when asked to testify about it,” POLITICO reported. “Hopefully no similar case ever rises again. But if such a further case is necessary, the Governor should testify there, just like he should, if circumstances warrant, here.”
While suing to get his job back, Warren was replaced by DeSantis appointee, former County Court Judge Susan “Suzy” Lopez.
Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick