Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

Public Defender Storm

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.


Filed under: Jacksonville, , , , , , , ,

One Response - Comments are closed.

  1. g8rluvr says:

    The saddest quote is from the Chief Judge – Donald Moran:

    “The quality of representation will not be as great,” he said, “but as you bring lawyers along, and they try cases, hopefully they get to that point.”

    I pity the poor defendants who are stuck with the inexperienced public defenders who are being brought along. They deserve better representation than that.

    And who is going to bring these inexperienced public defenders along? Who is going to mentor them? Shirk fired nearly every seasoned public defender in the office.

%d bloggers like this: