TAMPA, FLORIDA – In a memorandum to staff yesterday, State Attorney Susan Lopez explained that – effective immediately – she would rescind standing policies of “presumptive non-enforcement” of specific laws in Hillsborough County. The move is in line with last week’s executive order, which relieved Warren for ignoring state laws on a selective basis.
“It is my intention to get this agency back to basics. The legislature makes the law and we, as prosecutors, enforce it,” Lopez wrote.
The memo cites Warren’s past policies and decisions, which guided prosecutors to not request mandatory minimum sentences for specific crimes or seek prosecution for other crimes at all. However, it doesn’t mention abortion law. In the executive order, which officially removed Warren from office, the Governor included copies of letters that Warren signed from Fair and Just Prosecution, a progressive organization that works to reform criminal justice policies.
BACK TO BASICS
“I told the governor that I know the men and women of this agency because I served with you,” Lopez wrote. She directed staff attorneys “to return to the basic principle of prosecutorial discretion,” where attorneys work to evaluate case decisions on facts and applicable laws.
“We will not surrender our ethical and legal duties to think tanks or advocacy groups,” Lopez stated. “We will be prosecutors who partner with law enforcement, advocate for crime victims, and follow the law.”
SEEKS DEATH PENALTY
Lopez previously worked with the State Attorney’s office staff until Governor DeSantis appointed her county judge last year. Since taking the oath of office, Lopez has reconvened a homicide committee to pursue the death penalty in a murder case. Lopez rallied co-workers by stating that she felt like a part of the team the minute she walked back into the building.
The state filed a notice last Friday that they would be seeking capital punishment in an ongoing case against Matthew Terry. Terry was arrested by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and accused of brutally stabbing his girlfriend, an elementary school teacher, to death in Ruskin. Warren decided not to pursue the death penalty in the case against Terry.
Warren still maintains that he was duly elected and has publicly vowed to contest the governor’s decision to remove him from office.