Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

Angela Corey Takes A Stand

New State Attorney Angela Corey has informed City officials that she will not tolerate any violations of Florida’s open government laws.  According to the Times-Union, Corey told officials that violations caused “irreparable public injury.”  She said the public considers “themselves victims of any violation of the Sunshine Law and victims of any violations of public records law because they become victims of a loss of trust.”  She went on to state very clearly that her office would not tolerate any violations.

As the Times-Union editorial board states, her statements are a welcome change to how open government violations have been treated in the past.  For all of his virtues, Harry Shorstein created the public perception that open government violations did not matter because of his public statements in declining to prosecute them.  This unwillingness to prosecute led to a culture that failed to place much emphasis on compliance with the law.

Interestingly enough, the same day the Times-Union praised Ms. Corey’s statements, they also broke news of Shorstein’s application for the open US Attorney slot in the Middle District of Florida.  Among those writing letters of recommendations for Shorstein?  None other than the Grand Jury foreman that declined to pursue charges against officials involved in open government violations.

Filed under: Jacksonville, , , ,


Yep, that’s right.  It was party time earlier tonight.  And we all know how much Matt Shirk and Angela Corey enjoy a good party.  Wonder if Nelson Cuba was there to guard the door?  Oh, I guess he didn’t have to guard the door – this party was by invitation only.  Ohhhhh, rats!  And I missed it!

Oh, to be a fly on the wall. This evening, from 5-7 p.m. at the Ivy Ultra Bar in downtown Jacksonville, The Law Office of Duke Fagan is sponsoring a meet and greet for the lawyers on staff at both the State Attorney’s and the Public Defender’s office. And it’s OPEN BAR! WOOOOOO!

A press release reads:

“The new year has brought many changes. The Nation has a new President and the Fourth Judicial Circuit has a new State Attorney and a new Public Defender. Along with the executive changes in both offices there has been a consequent change in legal staff. There are new faces in old position and “old” faces in new positions. Thus, it is a good time to bring together both sides of the government funded criminal justice bar to meet the new faces and to renew relationships with the “old” faces.

The Fourth Judicial Circuit of Florida has always been known for professionalism and collegiality among the members of its bar. In furtherance of that spirit, The Law Office of Duke Fagan is sponsoring a social hour for the Public Defenders and the State Attorneys of the Fourth Judicial Circuit. An open bar, hors d’oeuvres, and live music will be provided.

This event is by invitation only … All lawyers employed in the Office of the State Attorney and in the Office of the Public  Defender for the Fourth Judicial Circuit have been invited. ”

I love how they put “old” in quotes in the first paragraph, like people might get confused and think they were talking about the elderly. And, really, considering what good friends Angela Corey and Matt Shirk are, we’re relatively sure the two offices will get along just fine sans cocktail hour. [FLOG]

Filed under: Florida, Jacksonville, , , ,

The SA and PD Road Tour

Oh, what a warm, fuzzy feeling I got this morning (not!) when I read in the TU that Angela Corey and her family had traveled by bus to the other circuits to be sworn in at each one of them by her good buddy, and former State Attorney, Judge Lance Day.  The word “smarmy” immediately came to my mind.

“It says this is all one community” said Judge Day.  

I’m sorry to break the bad news to his Honor, but no….that’s not what it says.  It takes more than a swearing in ceremony to make a community.  What it really says is the “queen” has started her reign over some grim-faced SAO employees, who have now had her swearing in ceremony crammed down their throats.   

But even over the waves of nausea emerged a worse feeling when I read in that same news article that the new Public Defender, Matt Shirk, had accompanied the new State Attorney on her road tour.  Shirk was sworn in later in the afternoon and then went to his FOP-sponsored soiree. 

What’s wrong with that picture?

Filed under: Jacksonville, , , , ,

Are lawsuits forthcoming for Shirk and Corey?

We missed this National Law Journal article when it was originally published on December 5th, but thought it was worth re-posting here.  We note that according to the article some of the public defenders and state attorneys are seeking legal counsel to look into their termination by Matt Shirk and Angela Corey, respectively.   I am sure they can always talk to their union representatives at the State Employees Attorneys Guild (SEAG).  You know, after thinking on it, I guess it’s a good thing that Shirk’s new office manager person has all that human resources experience with the City of Jacksonville – it appears it may be needed.

Read the rest of this entry »

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

Objectivity of the new State Attorney and Public Defender in question

In today’s TU, Ron Littlepage makes the argument for a civilian review board for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.  The argument basically goes police may be biased in reviewing their own, and the backup to that review is the State Attorney.  The next sentence in Littlepage’s column really popped out at me:

Next month, the state attorney will be Angela Corey, who owes her political life to the police union, raising questions about her objectivity.

Question:  Since Matt Shirk also owes his political life to the same police union, doesn’t that raise the same questions about his objectivity?

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

FOP and “pretty boy Matt”

Proving once again that politics makes strange bedfellows –


And police officers would celebrate the election of a Public Defender why???

For those of you who haven’t picked up this week’s issue of Folio, you can read their piece on “pretty boy Matt” here.


*Hat tip to Tia Mitchell at the TU for posting the invite on her political blog.

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

Local freshman representative gets a Vice-Chair appointment in the House

Rep. Ray Sansom took a break from fending off bad press for his sweetheart deals on behalf of his new employer long enough to make his House committee appointments today.

Interesting, a freshman Representative has been named Vice-Chair of a committee.  That’s unusual.  What’s even more interesting is who the freshman representative and the committee of which he was made Vice-Chair.

The freshman Representative?  Mike Weinstein

The committee he was made Vice Chair of?  The Civil Justice and Courts Policy committee.   He’s also been named a member of the Criminal and Civil Justice Policy committee.  I find that interesting given that he will be working for the State Attorney’s Office here. 

Weinstein has been named to three other committees as well.  And I doubt all five committees meet on the same day during committee meeting weeks. 

So much for only needing to take off for two months without pay for the legislative session.

Filed under: Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, , , , ,

Judges and crime victims alike concerned with PDO firings

The firestorm of controversy and criticism continues over Matt Shirk’s firing of 10 public defenders:


Major Change Comes To Duval Courtrooms

Crime Victims Concerned About Court Delays

December 2, 2008

With a new public defender and state attorney both set take office, there are some major changes coming to the courthouse. 

Last month, the incoming public defender Matt Shirk fired 10 experienced attorneys, and many crime victims said they are worried the changeover would further clog Jacksonville’s already backlogged court system and further delay justice. 

“It’s just not fair. It’s not fair,” said Alisha, a Channel 4 employee who was assaulted last year inside her apartment. 

The Local Station has been following her case for more than a year. Since the crime, Alisha has been going to the courthouse and watching as the man arrested and charged with the crime, Shawn Roberts, goes to court and prepares for trial. 

Alisha, however, recently learned that because of changes in the public defender’s office the case could be delayed even longer as a new public defender will be assigned to the case. 

“It’s really hard when you’re a victim to deal with those changes when you don’t really feel it’s fair to you. They’re just dragging you though the process, again,” Alisha said. 

She is not alone in her feelings. There are major changes coming to the courthouse with both the public defender’s office and the state attorney’s office in the midst of regime changes. 

In anticipation of the transitions, the chief judge has asked that no trials be scheduled the first week of January. 

Staff told Channel 4 there would likely be big delays; however, those in charge had a different story. 

“I don’t foresee any problem, really,” said Bernie de la Rionada, who is handling the transitions for State Attorney-elect Angela Corey. 

Refik Eler, second in command at the public defender’s office, had a similar response. 

“No, I don’t anticipate any delays — any significant delays at all. I mean, you pick up the file, you review it, you make sure what had to be done has been done. So, as long as those cases have been maintained, we hopefully can pick up those cases and run with them, which is our anticipation,” Eler said. 

Those who oversee the cases, the judges, said there might be some hiccups on the way but major delays are not expected. 

The real concern, according to Judge Michael Weatherby, is the lack of attorneys qualified to handle death penalty cases, and many of those attorney were just released by the public defender. 

“It’s not a problem that has been created by the new public defender or the new state attorney. It’s just a problem that is just going to be magnified by those changes,” Weatherby said.



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

Weinstein the Magician

Mike Weinstein proudly proclaimed recently that he would be able to do both his job as SAO administrator and as our representative in the Florida House – that he would only be out of the SA’s Office for 2 months of the year for the legislative session which starts in March.  Oh, really?

The Speaker of the House recently released a tentative calendar of interim committee meetings.

December 15-18 Interim committee meetings

January 5-8 Interim committee meetings

January 12-15 Interim committee meetings

February 2-5 Interim committee meetings

February 9-12 Interim committee meetings

February 16-19 Interim committee meetings

March 3 Opening Day of the 2009 Regular Session

Looks like Mike will be out of the State Attorney’s Office for more than two months to me – unless he’s a magician.  You know, I guess he could be one.  After all, he did manage to complete law school in 2 1/2 years while working full time at the SA’s Office previously.

Filed under: Florida Legislature, Jacksonville, , , ,

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, , , , , , , ,

Blog Stats

  • 181,324 Visitors This Year