In keeping with his pattern of defiance and reliance on recriminations, deposed Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel pledges to appeal a recent judge’s decision.
Following his suspension in early January by newly sworn-in Gov. Ron DeSantis, the sheriff had pledged to fight the decision. Holding his own press conference the same day, Israel declared the governor's decision had no merit, declaring it a political hit job.
In response Israel decided on a twofold strategy to get his job back; he intended to take his case the the Florida Senate, as well as to court. Early last month he filed his lawsuit against DeSantis’ decision. In the March 7 filing the claim stated the governor failed to adequately give reason for the dismissal, and called the executive order “an invalid exercise of authority. Sheriff Israel is entitled to reinstatement as Broward County sheriff.”
The governor responded to the suit by filing a motion to dismiss, declaring that he had acted within the parameters of the state Constitution, and therefore this was not an action reviewable by the courts. On Thursday, April 4, the judge agreed with DeSantis and had the case dismissed.
But immediately after the ruling, Israel’s lawyers announced they will take his case to another judge on appeal.
“The constitutionality of Sheriff Israel’s suspension will be tested in Florida’s appellate courts,” they said through a released statement. They also claimed this was overreach by the governor, prodded by the National Rifle Association.
DeSantis immediately responded in kind. “Scott Israel continues to live in denial,” he said in his own statement released Friday. “The court has recognized my authority as governor to suspend him for neglect of duty and incompetence and this appeal is just his latest delay tactic.”
The governor, an attorney with a law degree from Harvard, then elected to move beyond the appeal. He filed a request that the case be expedited and sent directly to the Florida Supreme Court, declaring the case should be resolved “sooner rather than later.” In late January Israel had filed a formal review by the state Senate. That review had been scheduled to take place this month, but it was delayed as a result of the court case, and now the subsequent appeal. The current session for the Senate comes to an end on May 3.
According to his latest filing, DeSantis stated he wants “a final ruling so the Senate can resume the process of formally removing him.” Any delay “limits the Florida Senate from carrying out constitutionally prescribed responsibility in the suspension and removal process.”
Reflective of his quick action taken to suspend Israel, done just days after his inauguration, DeSantis was fully prepared for the Israel move to appeal. “I am pleased that the court recognizes my authority as governor to suspend a public official for reasons of neglect of duty and incompetence.”
Brad Slager, a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer, wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News. He writes on politics and the entertainment industry and his stories appear in such publications as RedState and The Federalist.