Former Broward Sheriff Scott Israel Challenging Removal From Office

Former Broward Sheriff Scott Israel has taken the first step toward regaining his job following his suspension from office by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis earlier this month over his handling of February's mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Attorneys for Israel filed a formal request with the Florida Senate Tuesday seeking an evidentiary hearing in the case. The Senate president has already appointed a former legislator as special magistrate to receive evidence and make recommendations to the Senate. But, in their letter, Israel’s attorneys are asking another person to be appointed, someone who is not a former legislator, but rather “an experienced administrative hearing officer” with no significant prior relationship to the legislature.

The Republican governor flew to Fort Lauderdale three days after taking office to remove the Democratic sheriff, appointing Gregory Tony, a former Coral Springs police sergeant, to serve as sheriff.

DeSantis said during a news conference at sheriff's office headquarters that Israel failed to keep families and children safe before and during the Feb. 14 shooting that left 14 students and three staff members dead inside the three-story freshman building.

Minutes after DeSantis' announcement, Israel said he "wholeheartedly" rejected the governor's order and would fight it in court, arguing that DeSantis was making a "power grab" against the will of the county's people who elected him.

Under Florida law, the governor can suspend elected officials for criminal activity, misfeasance, incompetence or neglect of duty. If Israel's challenge of the suspension proceeds, the state Senate would hold a trial and could either fire or reinstate him.

Israel has said he would challenge his removal in court, as well, though the Senate ultimately is given the power to overturn his suspension, or uphold the governor’s action, removing Israel from office.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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