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Florida Bar Opens Investigation Into Matt Shirk


Embattled former 4th Judicial Circuit Court public defender Matt Shirk now faces a disciplinary investigation from the Florida Bar.

The News4Jax I-TEAM learned Wednesday evening that the Florida Bar was reviewing a special grand jury's findings on Shirk from two years ago. When Shirk left office, he returned to the jurisdiction of the Florida Bar, which has now opened a disciplinary investigation into his conduct.

In December 2014, a grand jury recommended that Shirk resign, citing allegations of inappropriate relationships with women in his office and poor hiring practices. 

The grand jury requested its report be sent to the Florida Bar and Gov. Rick Scott with a request for Shirk to be removed for a long list of "inexcusable conduct for a public official." But Shirk chose to finish his term, which ran through 2016.

The Bar will now send Shirk a letter informing him of the investigation so that he can respond directly to the allegations, as they pertain to rules of the Florida Bar. He has 15 calendar days from receipt of the Bar letter, but he can request an extension (20 more calendar days). His response will be confidential.

If there are apparent violations of Bar rules, the case will go to a grievance committee for review to determine if there is probable cause to file a formal complaint against the lawyer with the Florida Supreme Court, a Florida Bar spokesperson said.

The process could take six to 12 months.

Discipline can include disbarment, suspension, public reprimand or admonishment.