Florida governor Ron DeSantis suspended elected state attorney Andrew Warren on Thursday morning (August 4, 2022) for being – in his view – soft on crime. What do we know about his replacement, Susan Lopez?
Andrew Warren has released a statement branding DeSantis’ move a “political stunt.”
DeSantis’ line on Warren was he had been “picking and choosing” which laws to enforce, Fox 13 reports.
He appointed Lopez as a new county judge earlier this year but, while many in the Tampa Bay area will be familiar with her already, others won’t.
Who is Andrew Warren’s replacement as Hillsborough state attorney, Susan Lopez?
Susan Lopez grew up in Tampa and graduated from Plant high school, a public school in the south of the city.
In her youth, Lopez played in her college women’s rugby and crew teams.
She studied law in Boston but also completed stints at Flinders University in Australia (in 1998) and the University of Barcelona (2000).
Susan Lopez is of Spanish descent but wrote in her application to be a county judge that she is non-Hispanic.
How old is she and where has she worked?
Susan Lopez’ age at time of writing is 45. From 2005, she worked as an assistant state attorney in Hillsborough County’s 13th judicial circuit.
Three years later, she became lead trial attorney and in 2013 Lopez received a promotion to deputy chief of the narcotics division. In this role, according to the Tampa Bay Times, she “oversaw all drug trafficking prosecutions, including those from wiretap investigations.”
Fox 13 writes she handled “some of the biggest cases in the county” during her time as a public lawyer.
“My practice reflects the enduring trust that has been placed in me to handle serious, significant, complex, and substantial criminal cases,” she wrote in her 2021 application for county judge, as quoted in the Tampa Bay Times.
“I earned that trust by showing respect to victims and witnesses, working in partnership with law enforcement officers, treating with candor and respect my opposing counsel, and always remembering I am both an officer of the court and a servant of the law.”
Why did Susan Lopez replace Andrew Warren as Hillsborough County state attorney?
Governor Ron DeSantis suspended Andrew Warren, who had been elected democratically as the Hillsborough County state attorney, on Thursday.
DeSantis accused Warren of being soft on crime.
“The role of the state attorney is to apply the law and enforce the law, not pick and choose which laws you like and which laws you don’t like,” DeSantis said. “This is a law and order state. We’re not going to back down from that one inch. We’re not going to allow locally elected people to veto what our state has decreed through our legislative process.”
He then tapped Susan Lopez as the acting state attorney in the county. Tampa-based defence attorney Brett Metcalf said he expects Warren to challenge DeSantis in court, predicting it would “work its way to the Florida Supreme Court at some point.”
What has Warren said about the shake-up?
Shortly after the move, Andrew Warren released a statement criticising Ron DeSantis’ move and branding it a “political stunt.”
He claimed it “continues a dangerous pattern” by the Florida governor of “using his office to further his own political ambition.”
“It spits in the face of the voters of Hillsborough County who have twice elected me to serve *them*, not Ron DeSantis,” Warren wrote.
At the press conference DeSantis held to announce the transition from Andrew Warren to Susan Lopez, the new acting state attorney said: “When the governor calls you for a different service you answer. So here I am.”