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Governor Scott Starts Investigation Into Jacksonville Public Defender's Office

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Officials in the office of Florida Governor Rick Scott say they have started the process of determining who will act as a special prosecutor to investigate allegations of professional misconduct in the office of Jacksonville Public Defender Matthew Shirk.

The move comes after State Attorney Angela Corey sent a letter to Scott calling for an investigation, but asking that she be recused.

Our news partner News4Jax reports that Shirk’s absence from his office is among the issues expected to be investigated. 

Records show Shirk didn’t use his security badge to enter the office from June 12 through June 30 this year, then only used it four days in July. There’s no word on why Shirk wasn’t in the office during those times, but the absences occurred as three women who Shirk hired legal assistants were fired. Records show that Kayle Chester and Kristal Coggins, former employees at Whisky River Bar and Nightclub, were fired June 1 and 7, then a third woman, Tiffany Ice, was fired on June 25. Jacksonville Times-Union on Sunday reported that two public defender investigators resigned over a series of incidents that included Shirk and at least one of the women he hired. One of those investigators said Shirk’s wife, Michelle Shirk, confronted one woman and told her she was fired. Michelle Shirk is not an employee of the public defender’s office, but did at one time have a security badge to access the office.

Yesterday it was announced that Rogers Towers Law Firm would work with Shirk's office pro-bono on an independent review of the allegations. The firm is also working with a strategist from the Dalton Agency.

Patrick Donges served as WJCT's Digital Content Editor from August 2013 - August 2014.