JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – On Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court approved the one-year suspension of former Jacksonville Public Defender Matt Shirk from practicing law.
The suspension that was proposed back in April by the appointed referee, Kenneth James Janesk, was unanimously confirmed by the justices. Shirk was elected public defender in 2008 and re-elected in 2012 in the 4th Judicial Circuit, which is made up of Duval, Nassau, and Clay counties. The Florida Bar took disciplinary action against Shirk.
Shirk was under investigation for alleged misconduct, including by a grand jury. According to the report of the referee, one of the allegations against him was that he had improperly hired women to work in the public defender’s office and then directed that they be fired “for the private benefit of himself and to save his marriage.” Other allegations included that he had fired the women “for the private benefit of himself and to save his marriage.”
In addition to this, it was alleged that he consumed alcoholic drinks inside of a building owned by the city of Jacksonville and that he improperly disclosed information about a former juvenile client.
A recommendation was made by the referee that Shirk should be found guilty of violating the rules of the Florida Bar.