DeSantis suspends Florida’s only Black Woman State’s Attorney

On Thursday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis suspended State’s Attorney Monique Worrell.

Worrell was based in the 9th judicial district, which is located in Central Florida and covers Orange and Osceola Counties. Worrell is the only Black woman state’s attorney and she is being replaced with Orlando judge Andrew Bain, a conservative Black judge.

“I guess Ron DeSantis thinks if he swaps out one Black person for another, then that will make voters happy,” she said, adding that she was told not to go into the office and to return all state property.

It is the second time in less than 14 months that the governor has removed a duly elected prosecutor — the first was State’s Attorney Andrew Warren of the 13th Judicial Circuit, Hillsborough County, Florida.

Worrell’s policies do not align with DeSantis’ aims, but her policies since taking office have remained consistent with the mandate she received from voters and with decades of research on what does and does not work in criminal justice.

Based on data from the Prosecutorial Performance Indicators project, out of the more than 11,000 felony cases referred to and filed by Worrell’s office in 2022, 91% were disposed of as felonies, i.e., only 8% were reduced to misdemeanors. 

This means that the office is making good filing decisions upfront to avoid the waste of limited prosecutorial resources. 

The office declined to file approximately half of the felonies in 2021. However, by doing so, prosecutors were able to focus on violent offenses, which is reflected in falling crime rates across Orlando.