ORLANDO, Fla. – Monique Worrell, the Orange-Osceola state attorney who was suspended by Gov. Ron DeSantis last month, is asking the Florida Supreme Court to declare DeSantis’ order invalid, calling the suspension an “arbitrary, unsubstantiated exercise of the suspension power.”
Worrell’s attorneys filed petitions with the state’s high court on Wednesday, saying DeSantis’ executive order suspending her from office claims “neglect of duty” and “incompetence” but does not provide any facts that prove either allegation.
“Instead, the order vaguely refers to Ms. Worrell’s ‘practices and policies’ throughout but notably fails to identify a single, specific policy or practice, making the order distinguishable from recent cases involving other Florida state attorneys, where the executive orders identified specific policies alleged to constitute a neglect of duty,” the document read, referring to DeSantis’ suspension of State Attorney Andrew Warren last year.
In announcing Worrell’s suspension last month, DeSantis accused Worrell of avoiding minimum mandatory sentences for gun crimes and drug trafficking offenses, and of following practices allowing juvenile offenders to avoid incarceration.
The announcement followed months of back and forth between Worrell and DeSantis regarding her prosecution of cases, including past prosecution of Keith Moses, the suspect accused of killing three people, including a Spectrum News reporter, in February.
But Worrell has long claimed she never had specific policies to avoid mandatory minimum sentences and, in the case of Moses, that her office followed state practices regarding his juvenile criminal record prior to the February shooting spree. Worrell has claimed DeSantis was politicizing the Moses case in an attempt to suspend her.
She also accused Orange County Sheriff John Mina and Osceola County Sheriff Marcos Lopez of helping DeSantis build a case against her.
In the filing with the Supreme Court, Worrell’s attorneys said DeSantis only inferred that she adopted practices or policies that resulted in reduced incarceration rates compared to other judicial circuits. They also said DeSantis’ suspension order does not offer a single instance where Worrell violated Florida law.
Worrell’s attorneys said because Worrell is an independently elected official, the Florida Constitution requires the suspension order to have actual facts, not claims of “practices and policies.”
Worrell was elected state attorney in 2020.