State Attorney admits that coercion and intimidation are his “North Star”
by KrisAnne Hall, JD
On March 30, 2020, Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne of River Ministries International was arrested for allegedly holding church services contrary to the Hillsborough County, Florida “Safer at Home” order. In spite of the fact that the church observed social distancing and proper sanitary practices, above and beyond the local Wal-Mart, Sheriff Chad Chronister arrested Pastor Howard-Browne contrary to the rights enshrined in both the US and Florida Constitutions. Shortly after that arrest, State Attorney Andrew Warren filed criminal charges against Pastor Howard-Browne alleging two misdemeanor violations punishable up to a year in the county jail and a thousand dollar fine.
On May 15, 2020 Warren decided drop the charges against Pastor Howard-Browne and filed a Notice to Of Termination of Prosecution to the Clerk of the Court.
In an article for the Tampa Bay Times, Florida State Attorney Andrew Warren said,
“In deciding whether to criminally prosecute violations of stay-at-home orders, compliance is our North Star.”
So according to Warren, the goal of the prosecutor is to make people obey.
When Government can suppress individual speech or conduct through fear, the people will silence themselves out of apprehension of an unchecked force. State Attorney Warren’s policy is the very definition of the chilling effect our judicial system has condemned for over a century.
When a prosecutor can bring charges against someone contrary to our Rights and then sidestep accountability by later dropping those charges, the process becomes the punishment. Due process is obliterated.
This is not the “North Star” of America’s legal system. Our North Star is that the belief that people have certain unalienable rights and the sole purpose of government is to secure those rights. A just government does not use the system as a bludgeon to enforce the whimsical orders of the day. The goal of the prosecutor is to be a defender of the facts not a plantation foreman whose job is to whip the population into compliance.