Lawsuit by voters says Florida governor violated their rights by suspending Monique Worrell

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Monique Worrell
Monique Worrell (2021). From her Facebook page as State Attorney in Orange-Osceola.

©2024 The News Service of Florida

Arguing that Gov. Ron DeSantis’ suspension of Orlando-area State Attorney Monique Worrell “disenfranchised” voters, a revised federal lawsuit alleges that DeSantis’ decision violated due process and First Amendment rights.

Attorneys for voters David Caicedo and Rajib Chowdhury and the group Florida Rising Together filed the revised case June 28 in Orlando after U.S. District Judge Julie Sneed in May dismissed an earlier version.

DeSantis last August issued an executive order suspending Worrell, a Democrat who was elected in 2020 in the 9th Judicial Circuit, which is made up of Orange and Osceola counties.

Among other things, the executive order alleged that Worrell’s policies prevented or discouraged assistant state attorneys from seeking minimum mandatory sentences for gun crimes and drug trafficking offenses.

But the revised lawsuit, which names DeSantis as a defendant, said that in “following through on her campaign promises to reform the criminal legal system, Ms. Worrell was doing nothing other than meeting her professional and ethical obligations and exercising her prosecutorial discretion.”

It alleges that the suspension violated voters’ due-process and First Amendment rights and seeks to have DeSantis’ executive order declared unconstitutional.

“Governor DeSantis abrogated plaintiffs’ associational and expressional First Amendment rights when he abused the suspension authority accorded to him under Florida law,” the revised lawsuit said.

While Sneed dismissed the initial version of the lawsuit, she said the plaintiffs could file an amended complaint.

DeSantis appointed Andrew Bain, who had served as an Orange County judge, to replace Worrell as state attorney.

Worrell is again running for the position in the November election.

The Florida Supreme Court, in a separate case, upheld the suspension in a June 6 decision.

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