JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Lawyers representing the Public Defender's Office released more than 4,000 documents and electronic communications Wednesday morning as a result of Channel 4's public records request.
The memos, emails and text messages, along with letters and notes are between staff and Public Defender Matt Shirk, who is under investigation by a special prosecutor because of allegation raised in a Florida Times-Union investigation that question hiring and firing practices of three women in his office.
The women were let go shortly after witnesses said Shirk's wife came into the office telling one of them she was fired.
An email from Shirk to his chief of staff concerning Ice: "I think we need to get rid of her. She's been a horrible employee from the beginning. We can't wait on her."
The resignation letter for Tiffany Ice, 12 days after Mrs. Shirk was in the office, said: "The decision has been made to terminate your employment with the Public Defender's office due to your continuing inability to perform the duties of your position."
The termination letter to Kayle Chester just says the decision has been made to terminate your employment.
An email from Chester tells how she found out. She wrote Shirk, "So I get to work and all my stuff is in boxes. Am I Fired?" Shirk (pictured, right) did not respond, but forwarded the email to his wife.
The documents include resignation letters by two of the department's investigators who said he resigned over how Shirk handled the women's employment.
Before his resignation, one of those investigators, Al Kelly, wrote Shirk about his concerns.
"You are well aware we have a defined chain of command in this office. It's come to my attention you have entrenched yourself in personnel matters that fall well out of your chain," Kelly wrote.
Days later, after Kelly resigned and told a Times-Union reporter about what was going on in the office, Shirk sent this reply to Kelly:
"To think what I've done for you, giving you a job paying 85k a year, and it was about the most cushion job I cold give to someone. And our friendship and then you left I paid out your leave time because of that friendship because I did not have to and had not for many other employees. And this how you repay me? This you much my family means to you? This 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 liar but I could deal with it. But you are something else."
Other documents show Shirk's work and leave schedules.
There are many other emails that describe some of the attitudes of employees and drinking that occurred in the office. Like this exchange between several staff member and Shirk concerning a conference.
Shirk was trying to recall something and the staff member replied: "How do you know You were soaked in Martini juice." And Shirk then emailed Kayle Chester saying, "I guess everyone notices that I drink a lot of martinis."
Shirk called Channel 4 Wednesday morning, saying he was not able to answer questions about the investigation now, but he wanted the community to know that he remains on the job and his employees are continuing to do their jobs of defending clients. He said he would sit down for an interview when the investigation is completed.
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