Matt Shirk not ready to talk on camera

Public defender speaks to Florida Times-Union after coming under fire

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - There is no word yet on what could happen to Public Defender Matt Shirk, who came under fire last week following a report by the Florida Times-Union on how he handled the hiring and firing of three women in his office.

A special prosecutor is now investigating.

Shirk spoke to the Times-Union trying to clear his name, but he has yet to talk to Channel 4. After repeated calls to Shirk's cellphone and to his office, a staff member said Tuesday he got the message but is not ready for Channel 4's cameras yet. The staff member said he will eventually talk.

Records of Shirk's comings and goings from his office show he's been in the office nearly every day since the story broke last week. Documents show each day his badge was used to get in the office or elevator from the start of this year to the end of last month.

For the first five months of the year, it shows a routine schedule.

Problems don't appear until June and July, when his badge was not used for days at a time. It's during those months when the reported problems occurred with the female employees in the office and the allegations about Shirk's wife going into the builiding using her own security baddge and demanding a young woman be fired.

The records showing her going into the office had been deleted, but Channel 4 received a backup copy that show she was issued the security badge.

Shirk told the Times-Union on Friday he did not order those records destroyed and said he has not violated any law.

Shirk admitted to sending inappropriate text messages to employees, but he disputes details proved by two investigators who quit after the women were fired.

Attorney Hank Coxe, who is representing those investigators, said he spoke to the special prosecutor over the weekend and agreed not to comment until after this investigation.

The Public Defender's Office has not yet responded to questions about the procedure for allowing people in and out of the building, who has access and who deleted documents.

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