ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
69°
Partly Cloudy
H 68° L 49°
  • cloudy-day
    69°
    Current Conditions
    Partly Cloudy. H 68° L 49°
  • cloudy-day
    50°
    Morning
    Partly Cloudy. H 68° L 49°
  • clear-day
    70°
    Afternoon
    Sunny. H 73° L 54°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

Local
Pressure on Public Defender's Office mounts
Close

Pressure on Public Defender's Office mounts

Pressure on Public Defender's Office mounts
Photo Credit: Action News
Matt Shirk

Pressure on Public Defender's Office mounts

The Public Defender's Office in Jacksonville is making changes after investigations by Action News and the Florida Times-Union.

We first told you Monday about public records hidden from Action News while we investigated possible inappropriate behavior by Public Defender Matt Shirk against young women on his staff.

Tuesday, the Florida Times-Union reported on records they requested, being deleted by members of Shirk's staff.

The T-U requested key card information for Shirk's wife, Michelle.  Those key cards show when a card holder enters the Public Defender's Office, or enters secure areas in the office.  The T-U had to have the city's IT department find the records after they had been deleted. 

Public records Action News obtained Tuesday show two different employees deleted key card information for Michelle Shirk and the couple's son on the morning of August 14.  We still do not know why employees deleted that information. 

Action News made multiple requests for comments Tuesday about the data deletion, and why the two non-employees had key cards.   We received a response via text saying that the Public Defender's Office is working to find someone else to handle their public records requests.  No local government agency has ever responded to Action News in that way until now.

Why is this so important?

Two sources tell Action News that Michelle Shirk entered the office on June 13, and fired office employee Tiffany Ice.  Michelle Shirk did not have authority to fire office employees. 

Key card swipes show Michelle Shirk at the office that day. 

So why was she there?

A resignation letter obtained by Action News questions Matt Shirk.  Former investigator Greg Strickland states Shirk made "some bad decisions regarding your personal life and marriage."  Strickland submitted that letter, and resigned on July 22.

That is the same day Action News first requested information on the resignation of former Director of Investigations Alton Kelly.

The Public Defender's Office originally denied any resignation letter from Kelly.  They finally delivered the resignation email, dated July 15. 

Back to key card information: Our records indicate Matt Shirk swiped his card very few times during a five-week span in June and July.

He did not swipe his card to enter the building on June 13, the same day his wife reportedly stopped at the office.

Records show Shirk only swiped his card to enter his office building 14 out of the next 54 workdays.

Matt Shirk is expected to announce an independent commission Wednesday to handle public records requests.   We hope he will answer our questions as well.

A statement from the governor Tuesday evening called the recent allegations troubling.  

"If true, would be inconsistent with the high standards of ethical behavior Governor (Rick) Scott expects from public officials," the statement read.

The chairman of the Duval Democratic Party is calling for the Governor's Office to investigate.

Duval Democratic Party Chair Neil Henrichsen released a statement that read as follows:

“The information coming out in the Florida Times-Union about Public Defender Matt Shirk’s office allegedly destroying public documents and engaging in improper employment practices is deeply concerning and a betrayal of the public trust,” said Duval County Democratic Party Chair Neil Henrichsen. “I call on Governor Scott to suspend Shirk from his public defender duties while an independent investigation by a state attorney outside of Fourth Judicial Circuit is conducted to look into if the law was broken. If the allegations prove to be true, Shirk should resign his position immediately.”

Read More
VIEW COMMENTS

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post your thoughts. or Register.

The Latest News Headlines

  • They believe he was hit by a car Thanksgiving night and left to die. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is investigating after a man's body was found in a ditch along Bowden Road on the Southside, early Friday morning.  At this time, JSO hasn't released his identity, but they say the man was in his 40's.  Police say they don't know of any witnesses. There's also no suspect information at this point.
  • British police said they were responding to reports of an incident at the Oxford Circus subway station, one of London’s busiest, Friday evening. >> Read more trending news
  • At least 184 people were killed and 125 were injured Friday when Islamist militants exploded a bomb and opened fire on people attending prayers at an Egyptian mosque in the northern section of Sinai, Reuters reported. >> Read more trending news The attack targeted Al Rawdah mosque in Bir Al-Abed, the Egyptian state-owned news agency MENA reported. No group has claimed responsibility for the assault, so far. State media showed images of bloodied victims and bodies covered in blankets inside the Al Rawdah mosque in Bir al-Abed, west of the city of El Arish. “They were shooting at people as they left the mosque,” a local resident, whose relatives were at the scene, told Reuters. “They were shooting at the ambulances, too.”
  • We're still damp this morning, with some mist and fog early.  Gradually the rain is expected to end and CBS 47/Fox 30 Action News Jax Chief Meteorologist Mike Buresh says skies will clear.   Thursday saw a tremendous amount of rain.  “Unofficial reports of as much as 6’’ in the St. Augustine area, pretty widespread rainfall of 2-5’’ for parts of Clay and St. Johns County and even into southeastern Duval County”, Buresh said.  Mike says we'll gradually see skies clear through the day and by tonight.   That sets up a really nice, dry weekend with temps in the low 70's. LISTEN:  Mike Buresh Weather Podcast
  • UPDATE Friday morning:  Logan Mott’s mother has posted a heartfelt message on Facebook, pleading for a safe return of her 15-year-old son and his grandmother, Kristina French.  UPDATE 11/23/17 5:40 PM: The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office says there’s no new information to release. ORIGINAL STORY: A missing child alert has been issued for 15-year-old Logan Mott out of Neptune Beach.  The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Jacksonville Police believe Logan is in the company of his grandmother, 53-year-old Kristina French.  The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office says firearms are missing from a home they are associated with. Our partners at Action News Jax spoke with Logan’s mother who says the home that had the firearms looked like it had been ransacked.  The two are believed to traveling in a 2015 silver Dodge Dart with Florida tag D-L-L-T-4-2.  JSO says with the firearms missing, you should not approach them if you see them. You are asked to call 911. This is a developing story, check back for more updates. 

The Latest News Videos