FLORIDA, July 23, 2013 — The year was 2007. Angela Corey had not yet been elected Metro Jacksonville’s top prosecutor. Rather, she served under Harry Shorstein, the area’s long-serving and well-liked state’s attorney.
Despite having been with the state attorney’s office since the early 1980s, all was not well with Corey. Far from it.
“We have law school interns in the office,” Shorstein explains. “When they leave we critique them and when they return to law school, they are critiqued by the professor who oversees their end. One of the interns reported Corey was abusive, profane, unprofessional, etc. The school called us, I reprimanded Corey.
“Then, Corey called the school and told the Dean the professor should be disciplined for reporting her misconduct, the school called me, I told Corey that was unacceptable and she must apologize to the Dean and the professor.
“Corey refused my direct order. Then she was given another chance, she refused and was fired.”
This should have ended Corey’s career as a prosecutor. Instead, she was elected to Shorstein’s office the next year, after he announced his retirement. Some might wonder how on Earth such a thing is possible, but Metro Jacksonville is an area which has been known to reflexively vote GOP.
Seeing as Corey is a Republican, it shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out what happened.
While most people surely know her due to the monumentally failed prosecution of George Zimmerman, she has a record of controversy stretching far back. Corey’s most recent problem is the firing of Ben Kruidbos, her office’s information technology director. Krudibos’ testimony during one of Zimmerman’s
pre-trial hearings apparently earned him a spot on the unemployment
“It is understood that in the course of his duties, Ben discovered evidence that should had been turned over to the defense,” Shorstein says. “He took it to a lawyer who turned it over. It is also believed he may have been the one, or with others, who leaked her wrongfully taking $340,000+.”
Judging from Shorstein’s experiences with Corey, is such workplace behavior typical of her?
“Yes, there are scores of people fired for, ethically, doing the right thing,” he replies. “Her de facto #2 was fired for extremely unethical misconduct (cited by our appellate court) by my predecessor and Angela has cleaned out about half of the good employees.”
The $340,000 or more is in reference to Corey’s pension, which she padded under highly controversial circumstances. When Jacksonville’s only daily newspaper, the Times-Union, reported on the matter, she had it removed from her press feed.
Shorstein states that Corey raised her pension “secretly, lied about the amount, said it was done for all, [and] said I should have done it (whether [this was] legal….I question, I nor any other SA who I knew would never had done it), [she] said I did the same thing, etc.
“Unlike her adding to her and Bernie’s [pensions], I had earned some years ago and was allowed to pay back the $7,000 I had taken out. To pay back $7000, I paid back $40,000+ out of my [funds], not the taxpayers or her low paid employees’ $340,000+ dollars.”
Speaking of Corey’s staff, the woman who wrote Kruidbos’s termination letter, Cheryl Peek, was fired from the state attorney’s office in the 1990s for illegally influencing a jury. What are Shorstein’s views about the quality of personnel in Corey’s office?
“One of the greatest responsibilities of the elected SA is to train the young lawyers,” he tells. “All but the ones right out of law school must learn from the elected the highest standards of ethical and professional behavior.
“She gets good young lawyers but it seems as if, except for those who can’t find outside employment, they leave.”
Today, many Jacksonville-area lawyers are reported to be concerned that if they speak out against Corey’s tactics, then her office might treat their clients in a negative manner.
Who can say that they don’t have ample reason to fear Corey? Shorstein pointedly remarks that “(s)he is well known to be vindictive.”
Robert Zimmerman, George’s brother and strong public supporter, is also concerned about Corey. Specifically in terms of the Kruidbos firing, he says that “any state attorney can select the members of their staff, and that includes firing people who they think may have acted inappropriately.
“I do question the circumstances in this situation. I think Mr. Kruidbos was diligent in hiring an attorney. The way I understand it, he was afraid that he might face criminal liability if he was an unwilling accomplice in a discovery violation. “It’s my understanding now that Mr. Kruidbos has filed suit. Obviously, that means he disagrees with Mrs. Corey’s decision. I’m concerned that other people like him, now or in the future, who are doing what they believe is ethical, might incur the wrath of vengeance.”
There is an old saying which goes that “revenge is a dish best served cold”. Whatever the case, Corey can’t seem to get enough of it. How this relates to being a competent, let alone good, prosecutor is beyond comprehension.
Far-left? Far-right? Get real: Read more from “The Conscience of a Realist” by Joseph F. Cotto
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.