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Court Dismisses Former Sheriff Scott Israel's Lawsuit Against Gov. Ron DeSantis

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) - A Broward circuit court judge has dismissed former Broward Sheriff Scott Israel's lawsuit against Governor Ron DeSantis.

Court ruling dismissing Scott Israel's lawsuit against Gov. Ron DeSantis. (Source: CBS4)

On January 11th, Israel was suspended by DeSantis is Executive Order in which the governor cited neglect of duty and incompetence.

When DeSantis suspended Israel, he said Israel displayed poor leadership and failed to keep families and children safe before and during the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 people dead.

Before the shooting, Israel had changed his department's policy to say deputies "may" confront shooters, instead of "shall." Critics say that gave eight deputies an excuse for not confronting the gunman during the shooting.

At the end of January, Israel requested a formal review of his suspension by the state's Senate. The hearing was scheduled to take place in April.



On March 7th, Israel filed a motion which claimed DeSantis exceeded his constitutional authority when he suspended him. Israel's motion said DeSantis failed to "demonstrate sufficient jurisdictional grounds for the suspension."

Israel argues in the lawsuit that DeSantis "engineered a political power play that interferes with the right of the public to determine their elected official," and says the governor failed to prove that Israel acted incompletely or neglected his duties.

In the lawsuit, Israel said DeSantis did "not identify or describe any mandatory duty neglected or incompetently fulfilled by Sheriff Israel" and therefore the executive order "is an invalid exercise of authority. Sheriff Israel is entitled to reinstatement as Broward County Sheriff."

A week later, DeSantis filed a motion to dismiss Israel's suit. In his motion, DeSantis maintained that as long as acts with the jurisdictional limits set for the state's Constitution, the suspension may not be reviewed by the courts.

On Thursday Broward Circuit Court Judge David Haime dismissed the suit.

Without commenting on the merits of the case, Judge Haime said the governor order removing Israel was proper.

During a taping for this week's Facing South Florida (airing on CBS4 Sunday at 11:30 a.m.), Lieutenent Governor Jeannette Nunez reacted to the judge's order.

"I think we all knew that was going to be the outcome," said Nunez. "Certainly the governor acted within his authority. And I think the next step in the process, obviously the Senate is going to take it up and I'm confident that the Senate will look at the case, and look at the merits and they will agree with the Governor and agree with the Parkland families. And so we are confident that at the end of the day Sheriff Tony, who is doing a great job for the citizens of Broward County, will continue to do a great job. So we are confident the outcome will be the same."

After the ruling, Israel's attorney issued the following statement:

Today, Sheriff Israel is disappointed with the Circuit Court's dismissal of his constitutional challenge to Governor DeSantis' suspension order.

While we value Judge Haimes' studied decision, the constitutionality of Sheriff Israel's suspension will be tested in Florida's appellate courts. The Governor's overreach of the limited suspension authority has never before been used to replace a political opponent at the urging of the National Rifle Association. The Governor's disagreement with Sheriff Israel's decisions is not a basis to remove him from office. Only the voters of Broward County, who overwhelmingly elected Scott Israel as Sheriff, should have the authority to decide who is their elected Sheriff. The Fourth District Court of Appeal will be asked to decide this important constitutional question.

Sheriff Israel remains duty-bound to serve his community as decided by the voters of Broward County.


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