The Times-Union wades into the fury over the management of the Public Defender’s Office with a well-researched piece today.
Gone are Ann Finnell and Patrick McGuinness, the subjects of an Oscar-winning documentary for defending falsely accused teenager Brenton Butler in 2000. Butler was exonerated after they convinced a jury that Jacksonville police beat his murder confession out of him, then tipped detectives to the real killers.
Gone, too, is Lisa Steely, longtime chief of the office’s juvenile division and recognized statewide as an expert in delinquency.
And gone is veteran homicide attorney Alan Chipperfield, who was so committed to defending the poor that he took a pay cut to return to the office in the ’90s after a stint with a private firm.
The lawyers learned of the firings when a member of Shirk’s transition team sent White an e-mail Nov. 21, listing them and three other employees who wouldn’t be asked to stay when Shirk takes office Jan. 6.
According to a copy obtained by the Times-Union, the e-mail misspelled two lawyers’ names – McGuinness and Susan Yazgi.