Eric Bast: Angela Corey must be defeated

August 29, 2016 26 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

I began this article this week, feverishly checking and re-checking sources and data, to present a case worthy of publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Then, I saw Angela Corey polled at 20% in a recent University of North Florida public opinion poll. I realized at that point that nothing I say can unintentionally tip the scale in her favor—so allow me to wax sentimentally over her waning tenure, and explain in general terms why the likely outcome of this election is well-deserved.

Angela Corey loves the death penalty—too much

Darlene Farah wants Angela Corey to spare her daughter’s killer. James Xavier Rhodes killed Shelby Farah during an armed robbery in 2013, and Rhodes is willing to take a plea deal for life without the possibility of parole. Farah wants to end the three-year-long nightmare instead of being subjected to the endless appeals that come along with each death sentence.

We know from a series of surveys that have been in the public domain that a death sentence is much more expensive than life imprisonment. The extra cost is related to the series of appeals that follows conviction, each time exposing the family and friends of a murder victim to the case. These painful memories are already burned in the memories of mothers like Darlene Farah.
And then, two days ago—as if she were following some sort of sinister script—State Attorney Angela Corey gives her assessment of the Farah case:

It is a constitutional duty to consult with the victim, but the victim does not tell the state attorney what sentence should be imposed in any case. We give their feelings great weight, and we have done that with the very vocal Darlene Farah, who appears to be more interested in publicity than actually grieving for her daughter.

To what length will Angela Corey not go? It is clearly in the best interest of all parties involved—the accused, the family of the victim, the State Attorney’s office (which always has a heavy caseload)—to accept the plea deal, seal the book, and move on.

This episode not only speaks to how Angela Corey operates, but it also gives some insight to the working relationship between Corey and Public Defender Matt Shirk. Shirk’s free-time proclivities have been well-documented, so there isn’t a need to relitigate that aspect of Shirk’s tenure. However, when a Public Defender, a defendant, and a victim’s family are on the same side of a resolution to a case such as the one involving Shelby Farah, the Public Defender and the State Attorney should be able to work out the details and bring the case to a conclusion. While it is not possible to conclude that Shirk has a poor working relationship with Corey, one may assume that Shirk is unable to perform his essential function as a Public Defender with Corey as State Attorney.

Of course, one should not foreclose the possibility that Angela Corey is stalling a resolution in the Rhodes case so she can get one more notch in her belt. If that is the case, such behavior is disqualifying altogether.

Angela Corey is a “pitbull prosecutor”

After the primary, Angela Corey should become a trial lawyer. She would make a mint overnight. Her penchants for overcharging and retaliation are requisite traits for the lawyers of the world who go after unaccountable and unscrupulous tortfeasors. The world needs lawyers for the Stella Liebecks of the world [Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants, PTS, 1995 WL 360309 (Bernalillo County, N.M. Dist. Ct. 1994)], and the attack-dog style of Angela Corey would fit perfectly in that genre.

We do not need an attack-dog prosecutor, though. Prosecutors are to seek justice—not merely convictions. Angela Corey’s record of over-charging and personal animus toward critics has created a toxic atmosphere in our criminal justice system that can only be exacerbated by the combination of heightened racial tensions and the rigging of her primary to exclude black voters (more on this below).

Ian Tuttle of National Review (a conservative publication founded by William F. Buckley in 1955) found that many of the attorneys who work under Corey were afraid to speak to him, even under condition of anonymity, for fear of retaliation.


In regard to the George Zimmerman trial, Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz observed irregularities in the indictment phase of the trial. Instead of going to the grand jury to secure an indictment, Corey opted to file an affidavit of probable cause. On the affidavit, Dershowitz observed that Corey omitted exculpatory evidence and opined, “It was a perjurious affidavit. Submitting a false affidavit is grounds for disbarment.”

While Dershowitz might not have seen this coming, the wrath of Angela descended upon him:

Angela Corey called the Dean of Harvard Law School to demand Dershowitz be fired;

When the Dean refused to answer, Corey spent a half hour demanding a communications officer effect Dershowitz’s ouster;

When that didn’t work, Corey threatened to sue Harvard;

Corey also threatened to move to have Dershowitz disbarred, along with threats to sue for libel and slander; and

Corey assigned a state investigator to investigate Dershowitz—for what is unclear.

There are similar instances of the strong-arm tactics of Angela Corey, but this one is illustrative enough of the extent to which she is willing to go when criticized.

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