Matt Shirk
Public Defender
4th Judicial Circuit

All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.

--Winston Churchill

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It is an honor serving you and the 4th Judicial Circuit of Florida. The Public Defender protects the constitutional and statutory rights of all citizens through the effective legal representation of court appointed clients in criminal cases and mental health commitment proceedings. Florida Statute 27.52(1) requires a person seeking appointment of a public defender must submit an Indigency Application to the Clerk of the Court and pay a $50 application fee within seven days of the submittal. The objective of this office is to provide ethical and competent legal representation and public service within the framework and guidelines established by the United States Constitution, the, Constitution of the State of Florida,  the Florida Statute, Rules of Court and Rules of the Florida Bar.  The Public Defender is the Elected Official of the office and serves a four year term.

The Public Defender’s Office was established due to the outcome of the case Gideon vs. Wainwright; 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of this landmark case. On March 18, 1963, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that under the 14th amendment, state courts are required to provide counsel to defendants who are unable to afford a private attorney. This decision led to the Office of the Public Defender.



"From the very beginning, our state and national constitutions and laws have laid great emphasis on procedural and substantive safeguards designed to assure fair trials before impartial tribunals in which every defendant stands equal before the law. This noble ideal cannot be realized if the poor man charged with crime has to face his accusers without a lawyer to assist him." Read More....


Gideon v. Wainwright (1963)


“While we take this time to celebrate a historic decision and honor those who provide defense to the poor, it is also a time to reflect on where we are and what else can be done to guarantee that the right to counsel means more than just access to counsel, more than having a lawyer beside an impoverished defendant when the verdict is rendered and the sentence imposed, more than having a lawyer for the direct appeal of a conviction and sentence.”  Read More...

                                                                                      -PAULA SAUNDERS
Assistant Public Defender 

2nd Judicial Circuit, Florida 
Florida Defender Magazine Winter 2012

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