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After primary loss, public defender fires 4 employees

Melissa Nelson upsets Angela Corey; Charlie Cofer beats Matt Shirk

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One day after retired Judge Charlie Cofer soundly defeated Public Defender Matt Shirk in the Republican primary in the 4th Judicial Circuit, the office fired four employees.

A spokesman told News4Jax that the personnel changes are not politically motivated, but the result of ongoing personnel issues. There is no information about which employees were fired.

"It is the policy of the Public Defender’s Office not to comment on personnel matters.  In light of the specific accusation being alleged by former disgruntled employees our office will only add that employee retention is based on professional performance and standard best business practices.  The high bar for excellence that is expected of all employees of the Public Defender’s Office remains the same as when I set it upon taking office in 2009," Shirk said in a statement.

Cofer defeated Shirk 75 to 25 percent in the circuit, which includes Clay, Duval and Nassau counties Cofer faces only a write-in candidate in November.

Shirk was investigated by a special prosecutor and grand jury in 2014, which found no criminal wrongdoing, but was highly critical of his handling of employees, particularly three women. 

Shirk will serve out his term, through the beginning of January 2017.


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