In a sign that a long-running story in the South Florida region may have at least one chapter finally coming to a close, the State Supreme Court has upheld the decision of Governor Ron DeSantis to suspend Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel. Possibly the most polarizing individual to emerge from the Parkland shooting, Israel has faced numerous issues showing accountability was needed for the betterment of the community.
After nearly a full year of controversy being exposed, Gov. DeSantis made the suspension of Israel a priority while campaigning. He wasted little time taking action, announcing the removal of the sheriff just days after being sworn into office in January. Israel, for his part, wasted no time in responding, staging his own press conference on the same day to declare his suspension was not warranted and that he would fight the move both in the state capital and the courts.
The plan by Israel was to appeal his suspension to the state legislature. He stated that DeSantis removed him without due cause, and he also took his case to the courts. In a court filing on March 7 among the complaints, the suit declared that his suspension was an “invalid exercise of authority. Sheriff Israel is entitled to reinstatement as Broward County sheriff.” Governor DeSantis wasted little time responding.
In his own filing, DeSantis announced how his suspending of Israel was well within the parameters of the state constitution and was therefore not an action reviewable by the courts. A judge ruled this to be correct and dismissed the Israel suit. The sheriff then moved instantly to take his case to an appellate court, showing he was working far harder to regain his position than he had worked while in said position.
DeSantis has a law degree from Harvard, served as a Naval JAG, and was deployed as the legal advisor in Iraq for the SEALs. He is adept at these legal wranglings. Recognizing this was sure to become a constant stalling practice by Israel, DeSantis got proactive.
The Senate review of the Israel suspension was scheduled for this month. Israel’s own lawsuits were delaying that vote until they were resolved in the courts. With an eye on the legislature recess the first week of May, the governor filed a request to have the case expedited to the Supreme Court, where it was likely to end up eventually. Now with this Court decision, it can progress to the Senate.
On the local level, the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has been an ever-lingering specter on the community. More than solely the pain and scars felt from a tragedy there have been numerous problems exposed surrounding the local authorities. So widespread have these scandals been that the local newspaper — the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — won the Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for its coverage of the various issues. Scott Israel has been at the center of many of those issues.
After the Court decision, DeSantis issued a brief statement. “Scott Israel failed in his duties to protect the families and students of Broward County and the time for delay tactics is at an end. I look forward to the Florida Senate resuming the process of formal removal.”