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Newly released public records from Northeast Florida Public Defender Matt Shirk show an office in crisis

5:27 PM, Sep 11, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Public records released today offer a glimpse into the tensions inside the Public Defender's Office in the wake of critical news reports, allegations of wrongdoing and the appointment of a Special Prosecutor to investigate the matter.

Hundreds of pages of emails, text messages and personnel files were released today. The records include heated exchanges between Public Defender Matt Shirk and one of his former employees and friends, investigator Alton Kelly.

In this Aug. 26 text, Shirk excoriates Kelly, presumably for the Aug. 25 story in the Florida-Times Union that raised questions about Shirk's possibly inappropriate relationship with young female employees:

"And to think what I've done for you giving you a job paying $85k a year and it was about the most cushion [sic] job i could give to someone. and our friendship. And then when you left I paid out your leave time because of the friendship because i didn't have to and had not for many other employees. And this is how you repay me? This is how much my family means to you? You are a no good backstabbing piece of garbage with ZERO integrity. ZERO. I always knew you were a lier [sic] but I could deal with it. But you are something else."

The text contradicts the content of a July 15 letter from the PD's Office to Kelly, which confirms his resignation, and states that he will not be paid for accrued leave or sick time.

The texts were released as part of a mass public records retrieval, conducted by the Rogers Towers law firm working pro bono on behalf of the office.

First Coast News will continue to report on and update this story throughout the day.

to local media, in response to what one attorney dubbed "a deluge" of public records requests.

First Coast News

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