Monday, December 01, 2008

Public Defender elections

Florida is one of the few states that elects its Public Defenders. It's very strange. What platform do you run on for Public Defender? Tough on crime? Save the taxpayer money? Mostly, we've been lucky not to have anything crazy like this happen... But here's a story out of Jacksonville, where the newly elected PD, supported by the Fraternal Order of Police, fired all the top lawyers at the office. I kid you not:

Ten attorneys and three administrators found themselves suddenly out of a job, sacked Friday by the newly elected Public Defender Matt Shirk.
At least one of the attorneys told Channel 4 he believes the mass firings were a form of payback.
The firings came on the eighth anniversary of one of the office's most notable legal triumphs. On Nov. 21, 2000, taxpayer-supported public defender lawyers proved that a Jacksonville teen, Brenton Butler, was not guilty of robbery and murder.

McGuiness said they expected some people to lose their jobs when the new boss came in, but he said they didn’t expect the cuts to go so deep.
"Well, Mr. Shirk had not yet reached pre-K when many of these attorneys were trying cases already. I think he is uneasy around those with skill and experience," said McGuiness.
Shirk let 10 prominent attorneys and three administrators in the office know that in January they will be out of work.
"There are very few people who would have acted as divisively as Mr. Shirk in term of ridding the office of skill and experience without interviewing a single attorney or looking at a single personnel file," McGuiness said.
The mass firing occurred eight years to the day of when Butler was found not guilty after McGuiness and other attorneys who were recently fired proved the sheriff's department bungled the case.
McGuiness said the firings are payback.
"Mr. Shirk was supported by the Fraternal Order of Police and made certain representations to them, as I understand, that there would not be questions raised about integrity of policemen," McGuiness said.

Hat Tip: BT


Anonymous said...

To the victor goes the spoils.

Anonymous said...

Did I just read that correctly? There must be something in the State or Federal Constitution that would prohibit from being supported by the cops and represent those interest opposed to the cops?

Let me rub my eyes and make sure I read this correctly. BRB.

Yes that's what it says.

Anonymous said...

this is only the most recent of the dramas ... last week's revelation by the incoming PD was that he thought a lot of PD clients could really afford to hire counsel so he would have the office investigators investigate the client's finances to see if the office could withdraw... they won't have time to challenge the cases or the cops if they're all busy checking to see if the clients should really be clients