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ORLANDO, Fla. — Suspended State Attorney Monique Worrell said Wednesday her successor is pursuing many of the “exact same” policies as she did, in a rebuttal press conference to his 100-day update.
At a law office in downtown Orlando, Worrell pointed to the reintroduction of the Orange-Osceola State Attorney’s Office’s adult civil citation program, which was initially discontinued by appointed state attorney Andrew Bain before he announced Monday it will resume this month. The program offers alternatives to arrest for non-violent offenders, such as counseling or community service.
She further cited her office’s conviction rates, with what she said was a 70% felony conviction rate and 99% for homicide cases in the second quarter. On Monday, Bain reported strikingly similar numbers: convictions in 71% of felony trials and all of five homicide cases for his first 100 days.
“Not surprisingly, most of what he reported were the exact same things I was doing under my administration,” Worrell told reporters. A spokesperson for Bain did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Worrell’s press conference comes less than a month before her legal team is scheduled to present oral arguments before the Florida Supreme Court in an attempt to be reinstated as state attorney. Lawyers for Gov. Ron DeSantis said the Florida Senate is the proper venue for reinstatement, calling her suspension a “political question.”
The hearing is set for Dec. 6.
DeSantis appointed Bain, a former Orange County judge, after suspending Worrell on Aug. 9 for what he said was a dereliction of duty for not prosecuting certain crimes more aggressively. Cited in his suspension order were alleged policies to avoid pushing for mandatory minimum sentences along with prosecutors dropping cases involving illegal guns and drug trafficking.
Worrell on Monday said the governor to date has not offered “not one scintilla of evidence” supporting those claims, adding that cases involving minimum mandatory sentences were handled “with care and caution.” She also further questioned data reported by the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office regarding her office’s handling of their drug trafficking cases. Sheriff Marcos Lopez said she refused to prosecute many cases, but Worrell insists cases had to be dropped because of mishandled investigations.
DeSantis, who critics say went after Worrell for exercising prosecutorial discretion, counts law enforcement leaders among his supporters in the lawsuit against him. Earlier this month, the Florida Sheriffs Association filed a brief urging the Supreme Court to uphold Worrell’s suspension, which came after a months-long feud between her and local leaders.
“Law enforcement’s biggest contention with me was that I didn’t rubber stamp their decisions and that I did hold them accountable when they broke the law,” Worrell said. “That is why they wanted me out of office and that is why you see them laud and praise the governor’s state attorney [Bain], because they are all carrying out the governor’s agenda.”
On Monday, Bain said he plans on running for election against Worrell to keep his position as state attorney. Records show Worrell and Republican Seth Hyman have filed as candidates.