Framed by a backdrop of the St. Johns River, controversy plagued Public Defender Matt Shirk made a rare public appearance today at the breakfast meeting of the Downtown Council of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce.
"Nothing like waking up and coming out and having microphones put in your face," he joked in his opening remarks.
High on the 27th floor, Shirk spoke about the bill of rights, the salaries of his lawyers -- everything but the subject most people are interested in: the intrigue and investigations emanating from his office.
Shirk has been under the microscope for the past two months, ever since allegations surfaced of possibly inappropriate relationships between Shirk and female staffers, public records violations and Shirk's extended absence from the office and the public eye. Since then, the matter has been referred to State Attorney Bill Cervone to investigate.
Shirk took a handful of questions from downtown council members following his speech, but the deferential crowd refrained from asking about the office scandal. Said Downtown Council member and City Councilperson Jim Love, that's not unusual.
"That's not how we are," he said. Love noted the speech had been in the works for several months - well before "all this."
Shirk did answer questions from First Coast News after the close of the meeting relating to his performance in office and concerns about his accountability.
Watch First Coast News today at 5 for continuing coverage.
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