Fourth Judicial Circuit Public Defender Race Heats Up

May 16, 2016

Charles Cofer

Republican public defender candidate Charles Cofer criticized the incumbent today for what he called poor leadership.

“I’m one of many who recognize the clear problems that presently exist in our Public Defender’s Office,” said Cofer, who is a former Duval County judge. “Problems directly related to the lack of experience and integrity on a part of the office’s current leader.” 

Cofer spoke to members of the Meninak Club, saying the Fourth Judicial Circuit lacks a strong Public Defender’s Office under fellow Republican Matt Shirk.

“The core of this campaign is about which candidate possesses the experience necessary to run the office and the integrity to restore credibility of that office within the justice system.”

Before entering the race, Cofer stepped down from the bench after 17 years as a county judge.

Two years ago, a grand jury urged Shirk to resign over what it called “inappropriate” interactions with staffers and drinking at the office, but he chose to finish his term and run for re-election.