Aug 10, 2023

Suspended Florida State Attorney Monique Worrell Holds News Conference Transcript

Suspended Florida State Attorney Monique Worrell Holds News Conference Transcript
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Suspended State Attorney Monique Worrell holds a news conference criticizing Gov. Ron DeSantis, calling him “a weak dictator” and claiming he has “singlehandedly destroyed democracy in the state of Florida.” Read the transcript here.

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State Attorney Monique Worrell (00:01):

If we’re mourning anything this morning, it is the loss of democracy. I am your duly-elected State Attorney for the Ninth Judicial Circuit and nothing done by a weak dictator can change that.

This is an outrage. Three years ago, I was elected by the people of the Ninth Judicial Circuit to lead this circuit, and yes, to do things unconventionally, to do things differently. But, I didn’t hide. I didn’t say that I would do things and I didn’t do them. I didn’t say I wouldn’t do things and not did them. I did exactly what I said I would do. That is what you want from an elected official.

Elected officials are being taken out of office solely for political purposes. That should never be a thing. There used to be a very high standard for the removal of elected officials. There used to be a standard that I would’ve had to have been criminally prosecuted for something, neglecting my duties meaning that I don’t show up for work and do my job, or that I had some sort of an illness that prevented me from doing my job. But under this tyranny, elected officials can be removed simply for political purposes and by a whim of the Governor. No matter how you feel about me, you should not be okay with that.

Speaker 2 (01:45):

That’s right.

State Attorney Monique Worrell (01:51):

This is simply a smoke screen for Ron DeSantis failing and disastrous presidential campaign. He needed to get back in the media in some positive way that would be red meat for his base. He will have accomplished that today. He will be in the news nationally and internationally for the individual who has single-handedly destroyed democracy in the state of Florida.

He replaced his campaign manager yesterday. I guess today it’s my turn. He is replacing me. Interestingly, it’s my understanding that the person who’s taking place as number two is one of the individuals who lost to me in an election. You see how that works. You lose an election and then you can just come back and be appointed in the position by the Governor.

I’d like to take a moment to thank the prosecutors and the staff who works in the State Attorney’s Office. I know that this is an unsettling time for you, but we’ve talked about this and we’ve prepared for this. You’re not working for me, and you’re not working for whomever comes next, you are working for the people of the Ninth Judicial Circuit and your work must continue, even in my absence.

It’s important for you to know that I have already spoken with my legal team. They are assembled and they are prepared to fight this in the court system. But as you also know, the courts have been assembled by the Governor. The legislature has a super majority in favor of the Governor. Justice does not prevail in the state of Florida at this time.

The people in this office deserve better than this. There is now in a matter of three terms four different prosecutors leading this office. The people who work here deserve better. They work tirelessly every day. They are public servants. They should be proud of the work that they do. I am proud of each of them.

I want to make it clear the impact of this decision. Unlike a law enforcement officer who gets suspended for misconduct with pay while an investigation ensues about his misconduct, as of today, I will no longer be paid. As of today, I will no longer have benefits for my family. My husband and I work to support our three children. A substantial portion of that support has now been stripped away as a result of political gamesmanship.

Speaker 2 (04:52):


Speaker 3 (04:52):

[inaudible 00:04:53] right.

State Attorney Monique Worrell (04:55):

This should not happen in a democracy.

Along with me, two of my Deputy Chief Assistants have been fired. They also have families. One of them, five children to support. He has no way to support his family now because of political gamesmanship. This should not happen in a democracy.

We all know that this is not about policy or anything that I’ve actually done. The Governor and his cronies have been searching for a reason for my suspension for well over a year now.

Speaker 3 (05:37):

That’s right.

State Attorney Monique Worrell (05:39):

I am not aware of any actual articulable reason that has been given. If you listen to the statistics given from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, crime is down in Orange County.

Speaker 3 (05:52):

Say it again. Say it again.

State Attorney Monique Worrell (05:52):

If you listen to statistics-

Speaker 3 (05:53):

Say it again.

State Attorney Monique Worrell (05:54):

… from the Orlando Police Department, crime is down-

Speaker 3 (05:57):

Say it again, [inaudible 00:05:59].

State Attorney Monique Worrell (05:58):

… in the Ninth Judicial Circuit. While they are giving a false narrative that I have failed to prosecute and I have led to people not being protected in this community, the statistics show that people are now more protected than ever under my leadership for the last three years.

Now you’ve come to see me over the last year, especially through many press conferences that I’ve held. If you know nothing else about me, you know that I am a fighter and that I intend to fight. I will not be quiet. I will not sit down. This office is just a building. I have been a public servant for my entire career. I will continue to serve our community. I will continue to stand for democracy. I will continue to protect the rights of the disenfranchised.

What are they so afraid of? This country incarcerates more people than anywhere in the world. Florida leads the nation in the numbers of people incarcerated, but yet crime still happens. The lock them up and throw away mentality cannot be the thing that works. But what does work, what is proven to work are the things that my prosecutors and I have been doing over the last three years, implementing programs that help people that need to be diverted from the system, using the strong arm of the law when necessary to remove violent offenders from the community, and giving those individuals who need a second chance, a second chance to get their lives on track.

Speaker 3 (07:53):

That’s right.

State Attorney Monique Worrell (07:53):

Serving victims with restorative justice and not just vengeance, but things that are tangible and that matter to them. Fighting for raises so that the people who work in this building can make a living wage, drafting legislation that was rejected only because it came from me-

Speaker 3 (08:14):

That’s right.

State Attorney Monique Worrell (08:15):

… that would help us deal with the rise in violence among our children. These are some of the things, just a few of the things that we have accomplished in just a very short time. I am proud to tell you that this will not stop me from running for reelection. My reelection will continue. My reelection will continue and you can support me at Moniqueforstate-

Speaker 3 (08:43):

Yeah, girl.

State Attorney Monique Worrell (08:43):

… I understand that my friend Chris is here. He would like to say a few words on my behalf.

Chris (08:57):

Well, just on behalf of all of us in Central Florida and for those who are tuning into this across the state and around the country, we have a State Attorney here who has been a symbol of justice and fairness and community healing and racial reconciliation. What Ron DeSantis did today was cruel. It was cruel politics, and it was cruel to my friend. Those of us in central Florida here are committed to getting her back in office as soon as possible. Thank you.

State Attorney Monique Worrell (09:30):

Thank you. Thank you. All right, I’m sure you guys have a lot of questions. I will let you to it.

Speaker 5 (09:33):

You mentioned that two other high-ranking people on your staff were also fired. Were they fired or were they suspended and do you see this including yourself as permanent?

State Attorney Monique Worrell (09:45):

They were fired. I think that if we look at …

Speaker 6 (09:52):

It’s the DeSantis presidential campaign.

State Attorney Monique Worrell (09:53):

You know, it’s falling. It’s falling. If we look at what happened with Andrew Warren, I think it’s safe to say that it’s likely permanent. But the great thing about elected positions is that there’s nothing to stop me from running again and I will run again.

Speaker 7 (10:11):

Can you elaborate on what legal options you’re looking into?

State Attorney Monique Worrell (10:16):

There is a administrative order. My legal team is currently reviewing it. Once we have completed that review, we’ll be briefing you all on what comes next.

Speaker 8 (10:25):

When and how did you find out?

State Attorney Monique Worrell (10:28):

I got a call this morning reading me a notification from the Governor that I had been suspended and telling me not to return to the office.

Speaker 8 (10:36):

[inaudible 00:10:37] who called you or who made that call?

State Attorney Monique Worrell (10:39):

An investigator from the State Attorney’s Office.

Speaker 9 (10:41):

Do you know what’s happening with cases today?

State Attorney Monique Worrell (10:44):

I saw a note that was sent out. Apparently the judiciary has allowed that there be no court this morning because currently there is no elected prosecutor and no one has been sworn in to be the state attorney. Court has been delayed as a result of these political shenanigans.

Speaker 8 (11:08):

The Governor’s Office said in their presser today that your courts have dismissed more cases than anywhere else in the state. You kind of addressed this here, but what would be your response to that?

State Attorney Monique Worrell (11:12):

These are all part of the political narrative. I don’t know that there’s any factual basis towards that, but let’s talk about why cases get dismissed, right? We are making sure that when cases are brought, that they are brought within the context of the law. I’m not going to feed into those political narratives because we know that the Governor has been searching for a reason. We saw a manufactured juvenile justice report that showed that I led the state in dismissal of juvenile justice cases. You have to ask yourself, this report has never before been created, why all of a sudden now? Because it was manufactured by an agency that’s run by the Governor. They can create the facts so that they can support their narrative, but that doesn’t mean that those things are true.

Speaker 8 (11:58):

When you brought up that legal justice report, do you think judges are at fault for the delays that they cited there?

State Attorney Monique Worrell (12:05):

I’m not going to get into finger pointing because the reality is the criminal legal system is a collaboration of many different entities. It is law enforcement. It is the state attorney’s office. It is the judiciary. I know that it’s become popular lately to make everything that goes wrong in the justice system my fault. But it is important to understand that the justice system is a collaboration of several different entities. Even though they have pointed fingers at me consistently, I’m not going to return because it’s not right. It’s not true, and it’s not just. No matter what, in all things, I will stand for justice.

Speaker 10 (12:41):

There was an email that went out that many of the diversion programs that you started have also been suspended. How do you feel about that?

State Attorney Monique Worrell (12:48):

I think that is a travesty for the people of this community. I think that people should not be unnecessarily entangled in the criminal legal system if there are diversionary options. The mayor had a task force on public safety and diversionary options were one of the recommendation that came out of that task force. Again, the people of this community will suffer from what’s taking place now.


Speaker 11 (13:15):

Why do you think Governor Desantis might have heard that the [inaudible 00:13:18]?

State Attorney Monique Worrell (13:20):

That’s a really good question because the reality is through all of this, the Governor has never reached out to me personally, but I look forward to any opportunity to debate these issues with him on a personal or public basis.

Speaker 11 (13:36):

Love it.

State Attorney Monique Worrell (13:36):

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I want to thank the constituents of the Ninth Judicial Circuit for their unwavering support and encouragement as I have been under attack for the last year. Every time I go somewhere, someone stops me to tell me that they believe that I’m doing a good job. The trolls will come out on the internet. They’ll say the things that they’ll say, but every time I’m out and about in public, I get the support of the community.

It’s also important to note today is the day before school. My children have to deal with this news the day before school starts. That is evil. It is evil. There is no justice in what’s being done. Even for the people who are celebrating the fact that I’m removed, if there is any humanity in you at all, you should know that this is bigger than just me. There is a family who is being harmed today because of political attacks. This is a political hit job. It is nothing less than that. It should be seen for exactly what it is.

Speaker 8 (14:46):

What do you personally and professionally know about Andrew?

State Attorney Monique Worrell (14:52):

I know Andrew Bain personally. I think he’s a great guy. I’m not going to take any hits against him. This is the work of the Governor. The person who we should all be concerned about is the Governor. Elections have consequences. When the Governor was elected the first time by a narrow margin because of things that were really not significant, I don’t think anyone who voted for him then could have foreseen the attack on democracy that would have followed from his reign. But we are seeing it now. My conversation to all of you, in the 2024 election and then the governatorial election that will follow that, what are you going to do to protect democracy? What are you going to do?

I also want to point out that law enforcement has played a big role in giving the Governor the information that he is tasked for to support a suspension. Why? Well, I’ll tell you why. Because when I ran, I promised law enforcement accountability. Since I have become state attorney, we prosecuted Jonathan Mills, a serial terrorist on the Parramore community. He went to jail under my administration. The Florida Order of Police was pissed about it. They came to court to support him.

There is another officer whose case will undoubtedly be dropped now, Bruce Stoke, because he shot an unarmed man. I promised police accountability and on that I delivered. That is the reason that law enforcement galvanized behind the Governor’s undemocratic attack and removal of me from office.

You need to be asking the questions media. You need to be holding these individuals accountable to find out what happens to those cases now. What happens to someone watching to ensure that our communities are safe from law enforcement officers who themselves violate the law? What happens to make sure that law enforcement officers are held accountable? What happens to Brady and informing the community about those officers who have done things that put their credibility in question?

Listen, I’m not speaking out against law enforcement as a whole, but I am telling you that, as in any profession, there are bad actors. The difference with law enforcement is that they have covered it up. Systemically, they have covered it up. I have uncovered just the tip of the iceberg. We have taken action against that. That is why my deputy-in-chief who was over officer-involved critical incidents was terminated. That’s why.

Speaker 12 (17:45):

You talked about cases moving over there. How does this procedurally affect cases? Are we going to possibly see delays, any insight on that?

State Attorney Monique Worrell (17:53):

Yeah, ask the Governor. He should have all the answers on that.

Speaker 13 (17:56):

[inaudible 00:17:57] earlier this week [inaudible 00:18:01] cases [inaudible 00:18:01] trial [inaudible 00:18:04] impossible?

State Attorney Monique Worrell (18:04):

No. Here’s how pretrial detention works. First, law enforcement, if you read the statute, is tasked with notifying the state of any information that would justify a pretrial detention. It does not take place at initial appearance. That never happened in this case. There was no notification from law enforcement. As I said, pretrial detention is something that is used in very rare circumstances, not for someone who’s on probation for trespassing.

We’ve got to call it what it is. If you look around to other circuits outside of this one or look around to what happens once the normal course of business is happening after my removal, you will see that pretrial detention is not a thing that happens frequently. It happens in rare circumstances. That is not a reason to remove someone. That is prosecutorial discretion.

All right, guys, thank you so much for coming.

Speaker 3 (19:04):

Thank you.

State Attorney Monique Worrell (19:05):

Continue to look for me. I will continue to fight.

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