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Supreme Court suspends former Public Defender Matt Shirk

Shirk.JPG
Bob Self
/
Florida Times-Union
Former Public Defender Matt Shirk is pictured in 2015.

The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday approved suspending former Jacksonville-area Public Defender Matt Shirk from practicing law for one year.

Justices unanimously approved a suspension recommended in April by appointed referee Kenneth James Janesk.

The Florida Bar pursued discipline against Shirk, who was elected public defender in 2008 and reelected in 2012 in the 4th Judicial Circuit, which is made up of Duval, Nassau and Clay counties.

Shirk came under investigation, including by a grand jury, for alleged misconduct. Among the allegations were that he improperly hired women to work in the public defender’s office and then directed that they be fired “for the private benefit of himself and to save his marriage,” according to the referee’s report.

He also was alleged to have had alcoholic beverages in a Jacksonville city building and improperly revealed information about a former juvenile client.

The referee recommended that Shirk be found guilty of violating Florida Bar rules.