Yesterday, the Florida Times Union reported on an issue that many criminal lawyers in Jacksonville and other parts of Duval County, Clay County, and Nassau County will be following closely. Anyone living in Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach, Atlantic Beach, Orange Park, Fleming Island, Middleburg, and the nearby towns should pay attention to this issue involving Jacksonville criminal defense attorneys. Even if you live in St. Johns County (Ponte Vedra, St. Augustine, or Julington Creek), you could be affected by this year’s election of the Public Defender of the 4th Judicial Circuit in Florida, if you are ever arrested for a crime and need a criminal lawyer in Jacksonville.
It has been announced that the a Jacksonville criminal lawyer will be running against the Duval County Public Defender, Matt Shirk. Matt Shirk is the Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer that also leads the Florida public defender offices in Nassau and Clay County. Duval, Clay, and Nassau County are all part of the 4th Judicial Circuit in Florida. The Jacksonville criminal lawyer is challenging Shirk is Jacksonville Florida Attorney, Charles “Chuck” Fletcher. He is a private criminal lawyer in Jacksonville, Florida.
Prior to being elected to the Duval County public defender office position in 2008, Matt Shirk was also a private Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer. They will both be running under the Republican ticket in this year’s Northeast Florida election. This is similar to the Duval County State Attorney election in 2008, when two republican candidates, Angela Corey and Jay Plotkin, ran for the office of Duval County State Attorney. In that case, two Jacksonville criminal lawyers were running against one another. In this year’s election for Duval County public defender, two Jacksonville criminal defense attorneys will run for the position of Jacksonville public defender. Both of these Jacksonville lawyers have spent their careers fighting for people arrested in Jacksonville. Now, they will be fighting each other in the political rem.
Although it was just recently announced that a lawyer in Jacksonville would be running against Shirk, reports have already surfaced of allegations made against the current Duval, County Public Defender. The Florida Times Union reported about this election between Jacksonville criminal defense lawyers and stated:
“The rippling effect of the Cristian Fernandez murder case is being felt in Jacksonville political circles as Public Defender Matt Shirk, who withdrew as Fernandez’s attorney, is being challenged for re-election by a local defense attorney who questions Shirk’s handling of the case. William Charles “Chuck” Fletcher told the Times-Union he finalized his decision to challenge Shirk after a private team of defense attorneys took over defending the 13-year-old murder defendant in February. Fletcher didn’t point to any specific flaw by Shirk and his office but called the change in the Fernandez case an “embarrassment.”’ “Shirk defended the work he and his office did before withdrawing the day a judge was to rule on a motion to substitute a team of private defense attorneys. He said his decision saved the taxpayers money that would have been spent on the continued defense and did not reflect poorly on him or the attorneys working under him. ‘“We did as good a job as any law firm or group of lawyers in the world could do for that little boy,” Shirk said. “I think this is a win-win for Cristian and the taxpayers.”’
While many Clay, Nassau, and Duval County residents could careless as to the election of the Duval County Public Defender, they should care about the Jacksonville criminal defense attorney that will be running this tri-county area in Florida. You never think that you will need to hire a Jacksonville criminal lawyer until something bad happens. For people that have been arrested in Jacksonville cannot afford a lawyer in Jacksonville to defend their Florida criminal cases, the Public Defender’s Office is extremely important.