TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A federal judge has ruled that the due process rights of a former Florida sheriff ousted by the governor following the Parkland high school massacre were not violated when the state Senate refused to reinstate him.
U.S. District Judge Mark Walker dismissed ex-Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel’s lawsuit on Tuesday. The lawsuit had been filed in November in Tallahassee federal court, NBC Miami reported.
Israel contends that Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state Senate deprived him of due process and failed to follow a special master’s recommendation that he shouldn’t have been suspended from office. Shortly after taking office in January 2019, DeSantis removed Israel from his job, deeming him incompetent in his department’s response to the February 2018 shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
The federal judged wrote in his order that Israel’s due process rights weren’t violated because the governor and Senate followed the legal process for removing an elected official from office, regardless of whether the removal was fair or justified.
“I hope the outcome provides some measure of relief to the Parkland families that have been doggedly pursuing accountability,” Gov. DeSantis said in a statement after the Senate vote last fall.
Amazingly, all five state senators representing Broward County voted for Israel to remain in office. However, parents of victims said they viewed that as an act of betrayal.
“That was very difficult to watch. They cried with us. They might even have seen my child dead, and so it was very difficult, and I know the Broward County voters are watching,” Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter Alyssa was killed at the school and has since been elected to the Broward School Board, told the Sun Sentinel.
Israel’s attorney, Stuart Kaplan, said Israel is disappointed with the court’s decision but is focused on winning the upcoming election.