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.

“I’ve spent the last week settling into the fact that I am the state attorney elect,” Worrell told News 6.

Worrell has wasted no time.

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 thigs that don’t work well,” Worrell said. “I will have the benefit of knowing who all the players are,” she said.

Worrell says she has already met with many of the Assistant State Attorneys in the office and says she 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 said.

But Worrell admits she has not spoken with Assistant State Attorney Deb Barra, who still works in the office and who ran against her unsuccessfully in the primary.

“She was not one of the individuals who I’ve had an opportunity to have a conversation with, to find out where they are and what their plans are. So that would be a conversation that would need to be had,” Worrell said.

She says her biggest challenge and the first thing she has to tackle is the back log of cases due to Covid-19.

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,” she said.

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 attorney’s 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.

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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