When Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday that he would be removing Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren, a twice-elected Democrat, DeSantis said he hadn’t had a conversation with Warren about it.
But standing on the stage with DeSantis, ready to thank the governor and give comment, was Warren’s named replacement — Hillsborough County Judge Susan Lopez, who was appointed to the bench by DeSantis in 2021.
With Warren’s removal, Lopez, 45, will immediately begin as the state attorney.
”I have the utmost respect for our state laws and I understand the important role that the State Attorney plays in ensuring the safety of our community and the enforcement of our laws,” Lopez said in a statement. “I want to thank the Governor for placing his trust in me, and I promise that I will faithfully execute the duties of this office.”
Here’s what we know about her.
Her 2021 application for county judge.
Born in Tampa and living in the same house she grew up in, she said she attended Tampa Prep and Plant High School before graduating from Middlebury College, where she was on the women’s rugby and crew teams, and Suffolk University Law School. She also listed studying abroad in at Flinders University in Australia in 1998 and at the University of Barcelona in 2000.
She is of Spanish descent, but said she is considered White and non-Hispanic for purposes of her application.
She worked for the state attorney’s office.
Prior to being appointed as a judge, Lopez worked as an assistant state attorney in the 13th Judicial Circuit since 2005. She served as lead trial attorney from 2008 to 2013 before getting promoted to deputy chief of the narcotics division, where she oversaw all drug trafficking prosecutions, including those from wiretap investigations.
“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. “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 that I am both an officer of the court and a servant of the law. “
She also worked as an attorney at the Second District Court of Appeal, which hears appeals of trial court decisions from five of Florida’s twenty judicial circuits. Among the 14 counties covered by this circuit are Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties. It represents 6 million people.
Lopez supported Warren’s 2016 opponent.
When Warren won the election for state attorney in 2016, it came as a surprise and upset to incumbent Mark Ober, a Republican. In a profile photo Lopez shared to her Facebook in 2016, she is posing in a “Mark Ober state attorney” shirt.
She listed Ober as one of her references in her application for judge in 2021.