Florida Ninth Judicial District State Attorney Monique Worrell is suspended as of Wednesday morning via an executive order from Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday suspended Monique Worrell, the state attorney for Florida’s Ninth Judicial Circuit, accusing her of under-prosecuting criminals in her jurisdiction.
An executive order signed by DeSantis and Secretary of State Cord Byrd accused Worrell of “systematically” allowing criminals to evade incarceration, either by dropping charges or declining to allege provable facts.
Worrell, a Democratic elected official who took office in 2021, accused DeSantis of peddling a “false narrative” and engaging in “political gamesmanship.”
“We all know that this is not about policy or anything that I’ve actually done,” she said.
Worrell alleged that the Republican governor “and his cronies have been searching for a reason for my suspension for well over a year now.”
The suspension was announced at a surprise press conference Wednesday, at which DeSantis claimed Worrell had been “clearly and fundamentally derelict” in her duties.
Her actions constitute “both neglect of duty and incompetence,” according to the executive order the governor signed.
While DeSantis acknowledged that prosecutors like Worrell “have a certain amount of discretion about which cases to bring and which not,” he accused Worrell of having “abused that discretion.”
Worrell’s suspension is effective immediately. DeSantis appointed Orlando Judge Andrew Bain, reportedly a member of the conservative Federalist Society, to fill her post.
It’s the second time as governor that DeSantis has taken executive action against an elected state attorney over accusations of being soft on crime.
DeSantis last year suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren after Warren said he would not enforce state restrictions on abortion or gender-related surgery. A federal judge affirmed the suspension but said DeSantis had violated the attorney’s free speech rights.
DeSantis on Wednesday expressed confidence that his latest action was legal.
But Worrell vowed to fight her suspension and continue her reelection campaign.
“This should not happen in a democracy,” she said, noting that she is losing her salary and her benefits.
She also defended herself against accusations about her track record as a state attorney, citing police statistics that show “crime is down” in Orange County and in her judicial district.
The surprise move to dismiss an elected state official came as DeSantis struggles to gain ground in the Republican presidential primary.
Once seen as a major contender to former President Donald Trump, DeSantis has appeared to slide in national polls of the race.
His campaign, which is still less than three months old, has fired dozens of staffers in recent weeks. On Tuesday, he replaced his campaign manager with his gubernatorial chief of staff.
“He replaced his campaign manager yesterday, and I guess today it’s my turn,” Worrell said Wednesday.