Sudden dismissals become instant job offers

Anne Schindler is on your side. 9/6/2016

Last Tuesday’s landslide primary results put Public Defender Matt Shirk out of a job come January. He returned the favor Wednesday morning, firing four employees without explanation.

The sudden dismissals came as a shock to those inside the PD’s Office, since the four had a combined 60 years of experience with that office.  

But First Coast News has learned that they may soon have fresh employment. The State Attorney’s Office reached out to the former employees, and, that office confirms, at least two are in the process of being hired.

The post-election firings were viewed by some in the legal community as retaliatory, since those axed were either associated with people who’d opposed Shirk, had supported his opponent, or – in the case of the former IT Director – testified against Shirk before the grand jury.

If the firings were political, however, the offer to rehire could also be viewed as such. Shirk and Corey were once staunch allies, campaigning for each other, but have become adversaries in recent years.

The State Attorney’s Office did not comment on why Corey chose to reach out to the fired employees.

Shirk declined to say whether offering the fired employees jobs was a deliberate poke at him. In a statement, he said he would make "no comment on personnel matters to the public."

Shirk plans to meet with his successor, former Judge Charlie Cofer, tomorrow afternoon. Cofer told First Coast News he expects personnel matters to be part of that discussion. Cofer previously said he was surprised by news of the firings, and that Shirk had pledged an "orderly transition."

A Shirk spokesperson said previously there was no retribution in the firings, and the fact they occurred the day after the election was just a matter of pushing through an "HR backlog."

The same spokesperson also said if Shirk had fired everyone who supported his opponent, he’d have had to fire the whole office.


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