Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday that he hadn’t spoken to Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren about removing Warren, a twice-elected Democrat.
The governor’s named replacement, Hillsborough County Judge Susan Lopez, was standing on the stage with DeSantis, ready to thank the governor and provide commentary.
Lopez, 45, will fill the State Attorney’s post immediately following Warren’s removal.
I am committed to upholding our state laws and understand the crucial role that state attorneys play in ensuring the safety of our communities and enforcing our laws, Lopez said. Thank you for trusting me, and I promise to carry out your instructions faithfully.”
Here’s what we know about her.
Who is Susan Lopez?
She studied abroad at Flinders University in Australia, and in 2000, she studied at the University of Barcelona. Her home is where she grew up, and she attended Tampa Prep and Plant High School before graduating from Middlebury College, where she played rugby and crew, and Suffolk University Law School.
For her application, she claims to be White and non-Hispanic, even though she is of Spanish descent.
She worked for the state attorney’s office
Since 2005, Lopez has served as an assistant state attorney in the 13th Judicial Circuit. After serving as a lead trial attorney from 2008 to 2013, she was promoted to deputy chief of the narcotics division. She was responsible for overseeing drug trafficking prosecutions, including those resulting from wiretap investigations.
As she applied for county judge in 2021, she wrote, “My practice reflects the enduring trust that has been placed in me to handle serious, significant, complex, and substantial criminal cases.” To earn that trust, I worked in partnership with law enforcement officers, treated my opposing counsel with sincerity and respect, and remembered that I’m both an officer of the court and a servant of the law simultaneously.
The Second District Court of Appeal, one of Florida’s twenty judicial circuits, hears appeals of trial court decisions. Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco counties are among the 14 counties covered by this circuit, representing 6 million residents.
Lopez supported Warren’s 2016 opponent
A Facebook profile photo posted by Lopez in 2016 shows her wearing a shirt with the words “Mark Ober state attorney” about Warren’s victory over incumbent Mark Ober.
According to her application for judge in 2021, Ober was one of her references.
How is she different from Andrew Warren?
A former federal prosecutor based in Washington, D.C., and a Gainesville native, Andrew Warren, was ousted by DeSantis Thursday because he refused to enforce the law. Despite being largely unknown in Tampa when he ran for state attorney in 2016, he has since become known for his political outspokenness.
As of Friday, neither policy nor personnel has changed significantly at the State Attorney’s Office.
“Melanie Snow Waxler, the official spokesperson, says the State Attorney Lopez is acclimating to her new role after being sworn in yesterday.
“We should not lose sight of the fact that she is the county’s first female state attorney,” said Circuit Judge Christopher Sabella. “I think that is a very important part of this story.”
Her 16-year tenure at the State Attorney’s Office had not been long. She was a deputy chief in Warren’s felony division before becoming a county judge last year, supervising junior prosecutors and handling homicides, drug trafficking, violent crimes, and other crimes.
DeSantis selected her in December after she applied four times for judicial vacancies.
During her application, she wrote, “A judge is not a legislator. She is bound to follow the law.”
Lopez appeared with the governor and law enforcement officers during a news conference on Thursday when DeSantis announced that Warren would be removed from office and Lopez would replace him. Lopez said she was “caught off-guard” when DeSantis called her days earlier.
I was a judge, which has been very fulfilling and life-changing. But when you get a call from the governor, you answer.