On Wednesday morning Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis announced he would be suspending Monique Worrell, the elected State Attorney for the Ninth Circuit, for "dereliction of duty and incompetence." Worrell was backed by a group funded by billionaire progressive activist George Soros, and DeSantis claims her policies have allowed murderers, violent offenders, and dangerous drug traffickers to escape proper justice.
In his executive order, DeSantis listed numerous offenses, including avoiding minimum mandatory sentences for gun crimes, avoiding minimum mandatory sentences for drug trafficking offenses, allowing juvenile offenders to avoid serious charges and incarceration altogether, minimizing punishments for child pornography possession, and disregarding applicable sentencing enhancements.
DeSantis's office cited the specific case where 17-year-old Lorenzo Larry shot and killed his pregnant girlfriend and unborn child shortly after being released for prior charges including criminal possession of a firearm. Other examples include Daton Viel, who was arrested in March 2023 for sexual battery and was only sentenced to probation, before shooting two Orlando Police officers weeks later; Keith Moses, who had previously been arrested numerous times but was released without consequences several times before killing two people; and a minor who was detained over first-degree murder with a firearm, and whose charges were later reduced to firearm possession and sentenced to only probation.
The governor has appointed Judge Andrew Bain to take over Worrell's duties, a move made almost one year after he removed another "woke," Soros-backed prosecutor, State Attorney Andrew Warren of the 13th Judicial Circuit, from office.
The move has been met with mixed reactions from those in the Orlando area. While some believe that Worrell's sentencing practices were far too lenient and allowed too many dangerous criminals to slide, others remain unconvinced that Worrell was the only suitable target for the Governor's office, as systemic issues exist in the justice system that remains unaddressed.
"I'm concerned that Governor DeSantis does not seem to understand the complexity of the criminal justice system," said James Smith, a criminal defense attorney in Orlando. "It's easy to point to a few cases and call it incompetence, but there are socioeconomic factors and historical inequalities at play here that can't be overlooked."
For now, DeSantis's suspension of Monique Worrell is sending a strong message to the progressive criminal justice reform movement, and will undoubtedly be closely watched by prosecutors and defense attorneys alike in the coming months.