ORLANDO, FL – This morning, Florida Gov. DeSantis announced he would suspend State Attorney Monique Worrell, an elected official representing Orange-Osceola counties, on unsubstantiated grounds. The Governor is accusing the State Attorney of failing to impose mandatory sentences, despite the fact that sentencing decisions fall squarely within the State Attorney's prosecutorial discretion.
Elected with 66% support of her constituents in 2020, State Attorney Worrell serves Florida’s Ninth Judicial Circuit Court and recently announced her intention to campaign for reelection in 2024. She is the only Black woman serving as a state prosecutor in Florida.
This isn’t the first time Gov. DeSantis has removed elected officials for unjustified reasons. Last year, the governor indefinitely suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren after speaking out against the governor’s attacks on reproductive and gender-affirming health care.
Worrell’s predecessor, Aramis Ayala, the first Black woman elected to be a local State Attorney in Florida, was twice forcibly removed from cases under her purview by both the governor and his predecessor before she finished her duly elected term in 2021.
Kara Gross, legislative director and senior policy counsel at the ACLU of Florida, responded with the following:
“Once again, Governor DeSantis shows that he will do whatever he can in order to keep his power and control over the state, regardless of what the people want or how they voted. A supermajority of Floridians in the Ninth Judicial Circuit elected State Attorney Monique Worrell to be their Chief Prosecutor. Today’s action by DeSantis overturns the will of the people in Orange and Osceola County. Last year, the Governor overturned the will of the people in Hillsborough County when he ousted State Attorney Warren. Which counties are next? When will he stop?
“Ousting elected officials because you disagree with their leadership and installing hand-picked individuals to take over their job responsibilities is what happens in authoritarian regimes, not democratic nations. In a democracy, you can’t just remove elected officials who you don’t like. Elections matter. This matters. The whole country is watching.”