Monique Worrell begins work as state attorney-elect

Worrell says backlog of COVID-19 cases will be biggest challenge

Monique Worrell, who is Florida’s second Black state attorney, is preparing to take office in Orange and Osceola counties after winning the general election.

On election night, Worrell greeted supporters with fist bumps, even after a glitch in Osceola County slightly delayed her win.

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But now it’s official and Worrell has wasted no time.

“I am the state attorney elect,” Worrell said.

She’s actually already working in the 9th circuit State Attorney’s Office assisting in the Conviction Integrity Unit which she helped start.

She says being in the office with the current State Attorney Aramis Ayala, and having a good relationship, is making their transition much smoother than the transition in the White House.

“I will have the benefit of a lot of advice for her on things that work well and things that don’t work well,” Worrell said. “I will have the benefit of knowing who all the players are.”

Worrell says she has already met with many of the assistant state attorneys in the office and has no plans of cleaning house.

“Absolutely not. Why would I do that?” she said. “I have a responsibility to ensure that this office runs and that it runs efficiently. And why would I get rid of individuals who are already doing the job that I need them to do?”

She says her biggest challenge and the first thing she has to tackle is the back log of cases due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Courts have been closed for nearly eight months.

“We’re in a place right now, where the Covid numbers are going up, not down,” Worrell said. “So it’s really difficult to say, ‘let’s be business as usual,’ when you have this disease that is really shattering the lives of so many people.”

Across the country, judicial systems are trying to figure out the best way to move forward with trials.

Worrell says she will be putting together a team to figure out ways to try cases while keeping her attorneys and defendants safe.

“How we can dispose of cases in a way that will bring justice to our communities, and how can we try the cases that absolutely need to be tried,” Worrell said.

The office has about 400 employees. Worrell has notified 5 employees they will not be retained.

Deb Barra who ran unsuccessfully against Worrell in the primary has resigned from the office effective Jan. 3.

Worrell says one position she will be adding is a Director of Training and Development to help train new lawyers.

She will be sworn into office in January.

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