Ron DeSantis (R) will not have to testify in the case of a woke prosecutor who sued the Florida governor for firing him, a federal judge has decided.
DeSantis sacked Andrew Warren, a Democrat prosecutor in Hillsborough County, in August after the prosecutor said he would not enforce Florida’s bans on abortion and so-called “gender-affirming care” for minors.
Court victory for DeSantis
Warren has alleged that the firing was political retaliation that infringed on free speech, but DeSantis has said the prosecutor refused to perform his duty.
“The governor reasonably construed Mr. Warren’s statements to be either blanket refusals to enforce Florida law or evidence that Mr. Warren was grossly ignorant of his official responsibilities,” DeSantis’ lawyers said.
At a hearing Wednesday, Judge Robert Hinkle turned down a request for DeSantis to appear in court after Warren’s lawyers admitted they had no urgent intention to call the governor to testify. The judge said it is “very unlikely the situation will change,” Politico reported.
DeSantis says the testimony is unnecessary
Warren’s lawyers argued that DeSantis’ testimony was necessary to determine his motive, but DeSantis’ lawyers sought to block the request, saying Warren “has more than enough evidence to discern the governor’s motives without hauling Florida’s top executive officials into court.”
Warren has pointed to DeSantis’ use of the firing as a campaign theme before his landslide re-election this month. In his victory speech on Election Night, DeSantis declared that Florida is “where woke goes to die.”
“We fight the woke in the legislature. We fight the woke in the schools. We fight the woke in the corporations. We will never, ever surrender to the woke mob. Florida is where woke goes to die.”
The trial will begin next week. Some of DeSantis’ top aides are expected to testify including spokeswoman Christina Pushaw.
DeSantis’ general counsel Ryan Newman already said in a deposition that the governor was reluctant at first to fire Warren.
“I sort of pushed back on his initial reluctance, because I just thought — honestly, I just thought it was appalling to — for the chief prosecutor in a jurisdiction to go out and make that kind of commitment, and thereby invite law breaking, thereby inviting a crime to occur.”
The governor suffered a setback in a separate case challenging his “Stop Woke” law, which a judge called a “positively dystopian” form of censorship.