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Lawyer chastised special prosecutor in Trayvon case: 'civil rights...are at real risk'

Gov. Rick Scott's choice of special prosecutor in the Trayvon Martin shooting case, Angela Corey, provoked a rare and deeply critical letter to the White House in 2009 from former Florida State University president and Law School dean Talbot "Sandy" D'Alemberte.

"There is, in my judgment, a very real danager of a melt down of the justice system in Duval County with the election of a new State Attorney and a Public Defender who has shown no enthusiasm for defending citizens,'' D'Alemberte wrote in an Aug. 12, 2009 letter to Gregory B. Craig, White House Council for President Obama. Download D'Alemberte Letter

The purpose of D'Alemberte's letter was to recommend that Obama appoint Harry Shorstein, the former state attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit, as U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida. Corey had worked under Shorstein between 1991 to 2006 but after Shorstein moved her from the homicide division she announced she would seek election to run against him. News reports indicated their relationship became further strained after her announcement, and he fired her in November 2006. Shortstein retired as state attorney in 2008 and voters elected Corey. He was not appointed U.S. attorney.

D'Alemberte, who is also law school professor and former head of the American Bar Association, also used the recommendation letter to express his lack of confidence in Corey, and Public Defender Mark Shirk, both of whom he did not mention by name in the letter.

"The civil rights of Jacksonville citizens are at real risk and it is important to have someone who has show integrity in office there to guard against a slide into lawless behavior," D'Alemberte wrote. Corey and Shirk are both Republicans. After taking office, Corey fired 10 assistant state attorneys, more than half of the investigators, and 48 support employees. She also earned a reputation for being tough on juvenile criminals, sending 230 juvenile felony cases to adult court in 2009, and has high rate of prosecutions, according the Jacksonville Times Union.

Scott appointed Corey to head up the special investigation to the shooting that has drawn national media attention.

-- Tampa Bay Times writer Lucy Morgan contributed to this report.