In 2020, Monique Worrell won election to serve as the prosecutor for the Orlando area, campaigning on a reform platform that sought to reduce the number of people facing harsh sentences. Last month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended her from office for “neglect of duty and incompetence,” citing her purportedly lenient approach to charging and sentencing. This month, Worrell filed suit in the Florida Supreme Court challenging her suspension.
Worrell’s lawsuit is one of a number of current state court cases that raise important constitutional questions about the scope of prosecutorial discretion — the power of prosecutors to decide when and how to charge crimes, seek bail or sentencing enhancements, or make other decisions about how they pursue cases. It’s an issue receiving scrutiny across the country, with laws recently enacted in Georgia and Texas authorizing prosecutors’ removal for certain uses of discretion.