Angela Corey, by all accounts, is no Atticus Finch. She is “one hell of a trial lawyer,” says a Florida defense attorney who has known her for three decades — but the woman who has risen to national prominence as the “tough as nails” state attorney who prosecuted George Zimmerman is known for scorching the earth. And some of her prosecutorial conduct has been, well, troubling at best.
Corey, a Jacksonville native, took a degree in marketing from Florida State University before pursuing her J.D. at the University of Florida. She became a Florida prosecutor in 1981 and tried everything from homicides to juvenile cases in the ensuing 26 years. In 2008, Corey was elected state attorney for Florida’s Fourth Judicial Circuit, taking over from Harry Shorstein — the five-term state attorney who had fired her from his office a year earlier, citing “long-term issues” regarding her supervisory performance.
When Corey came in, she cleaned house. Corey fired half of the office’s investigators, two-fifths of its victim advocates, a quarter of its 35 paralegals, and 48 other support staff — more than one-fifth of the office. Then she sent a letter to Florida’s senators demanding that they oppose Shorstein’s pending nomination as a U.S. attorney. “I told them he should not hold a position of authority in his community again, because of his penchant for using the grand jury for personal vendettas,” she wrote.