Broward County

Suspended Broward Sheriff Scott Israel files appeal in ongoing fight with governor

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis suspends BSO sheriff Scott Israel, and replaces him with Gregory Tony

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel was suspended by Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. Israel was under fire over BSO’s response to the Parkland shooting. His replacement, Gregory Tony, is a former Coral Springs police sergeant.
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Broward Sheriff Scott Israel was suspended by Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. Israel was under fire over BSO’s response to the Parkland shooting. His replacement, Gregory Tony, is a former Coral Springs police sergeant.

Former Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel filed an appeal Friday morning, less than a day after a Broward Circuit judge ruled in favor of Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Judge David Haimes ruled Thursday that the newly elected governor was within his constitutional authority when he suspended Israel and replaced him with former Coral Springs Sgt. Gregory Tony in January, accusing Israel of neglect of duty and incompetence in leading the Broward Sheriff’s Office.

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The formal filing to the Fourth District Court of Appeal by Israel’s attorney, Benedict Kuehne, is the embattled Israel’s latest bid to challenge his suspension in the wake of the Parkland massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018.

About four hours after Israel’s attorney filed an appeal on behalf of his client, Gov. DeSantis responded by filing a request with the same court to expedite and certify the final order so that his case against Israel can go to the Florida Supreme Court for a final ruling.

“Scott Israel continues to live in denial,” DeSantis said in a statement issued by his office. “The court has recognized my authority as governor to suspend him for neglect of duty and incompetence and this appeal is just his latest delay tactic. I have filed a request with the Fourth DCA asking for expedited consideration to move this case to the Florida Supreme Court for a final ruling so that the Senate can resume the process of formally removing him.”

Senate President Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton) issued a memo to fellow senators on Thursday evening. Galvano’s memo affirmed a position he has held that the Florida Senate hearing on Israel will remain on hold while the former law enforcement officer pursues his court appeal.

“As you are aware, the matter is in abeyance until all appeals are exhausted or have been definitively taken off the table,” Galvano wrote in his memo, News Service of Florida reported.

Israel was elected sheriff in 2012. Despite the suspension, Israel has said he will run for his position again in 2020.

Israel has maintained for the past year that he served the county with competence and that voters — not the governor — should decide who should serve as sheriff.

Following Haimes’ decision Thursday, Kuehne said he would ask the appeals court “to decide this important constitutional question.”

Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.

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