Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has suspended State Attorney Monique Worrell of the 9th Judicial Circuit for “neglecting her duty to faithfully prosecute crime in her jurisdiction.”
The governor’s office said, “Worrell’s practices and policies have too often allowed violent criminals to escape the full consequences of their criminal conduct, thereby endangering the innocent civilians of Orange and Osceola counties.”
A 40-page Executive Order suspending Worrell stated that she has a history of evading minimum mandatory sentences for crimes including drug trafficking and gun crimes. It also alleges a pattern or practice of allowing violent juvenile offenders to avoid serious charges and incarceration.
Worrell, the order alleges, has also avoided properly charging people for child pornography and sex crimes against minors.
“Worrell has authorized or allowed practices or policies that limit the number of charges for Possession of Child Pornography on which the assistant state attorneys in her office may obtain a conviction, even when additional counts could be charged and proven at trial,” the order alleges. “, Worrell’s practice or policy of arbitrarily limiting the number of counts for Possession of Child Pornography that may be prosecuted against a defendant is corroborated by data from the Florida Department of Corrections. With respect to prison admissions from January 1, 2022, to. March 31, 2023, the Ninth Circuit, on a per capita basis, had among the lowest prison admission rates relative to the other circuits for crimes involving lewd and lascivious behavior, which includes Possession of Child Pornography and other sex crimes against children.”
DeSantis, in a statement, accused the state attorney of allowing violent criminals to “roam the streets and find new victims.”
“It is my duty as Governor to ensure that the laws enacted by our duly elected Legislature are followed,” said DeSantis in a statement. “The people of Central Florida deserve to have a State Attorney who will seek justice in accordance with the law instead of allowing violent criminals to roam the streets and find new victims.”
DeSantis explained that prosecutors have discretion on which cases to bring, and Worrell has abused that.
“What this state attorney has done is abuse that discretion, and effectively nullified laws in the state of Florida,” he said.
Attorney General Ashley Moody echoed DeSantis’ sentiment.
“We are fortunate to have a Governor committed to the rule of law and holding officials — especially those elected to protect the public — accountable for not doing the jobs they swore an oath to do,” Moody said in a statement. “Ms. Worrell abdicated her responsibility as the circuit’s top prosecutor and her actions undermine the safety and security of our state and Floridians.”
DeSantis has appointed former judge Andrew Bain to serve as State Attorney for the duration of the suspension.
The Governor can suspend a state officer under Article IV, Section 7 of the Florida Constitution.
Last year, DeSantis also suspended Florida State Attorney Andrew Warren of the 13th Judicial Circuit for allegedly picking and choosing which crimes he wanted to prosecute.
Warren had asserted that he would not prosecute anyone for performing sex change surgeries on minors, late term abortions, or partial birth abortions — all of which are illegal in the state.