Angela Corey has been ousted from her position as Florida’s 4th Judicial State Attorney by Melissa Nelson, who was relatively unknown just three months ago. Corey has been a controversial figure not only in Jacksonville, but also across the United States due to her handling of high-profile criminal cases. Corey was ousted by Nelson in Tuesday’s shocking defeat.
Corey is known nationally for her prosecutions of high-profile defendants such as Marissa Alexander, the abused wife for whom she asked for a 60-year prison term after Alexander shot in her husband’s direction; George Zimmerman, who was tried for second-degree murder for shooting and killing Trayvon Martin; and preteen Cristian Fernandez, whom she tried as an adult in spite of the fact that he was only 12 years old.
In spite of criticism over her handling of these cases and low approval ratings by the public, Corey was thought to have the state attorney race firmly in hand. Once Nelson entered the race, however, the over $1 million she received in donations and the community-wide support she garnered gave her a lead that rose from 10 points at the beginning of the campaign to 32 points just prior to her election, making her a hot contender to effect an Angela Corey oust.
Angela Corey was ousted despite the decades she has worked in the public eye as a prosecutor. Before her election as the Jacksonville state attorney, Corey worked under three other state attorneys in Florida. During her years prior to her service and then her being ousted as a Florida state attorney, she publicly feuded with her boss, former state attorney Harry Shorstein, before being elected to replace him. Voters were reminded of the ugly dispute during Corey’s latest campaign, when she made an attempt to link Nelson to a Shorstein case in which he removed the possibility of the death penalty from a convicted murderer only to have the prisoner commit another murder behind bars.
Angela Corey was ousted in spite of support she gained from other elected officials and members of law enforcement. Even though she was praised for her experience in campaign ads, voters did not find it valuable enough to re-elect her. Nelson jumped on the discontent of the voters by challenging Corey’s integrity and promising to regain the trust Corey had lost, in part due to her propensity to engage in public feuds and to respond angrily to criticism. The Florida Times-Union reports that at one point, they were the target of an angry Corey, who refused to speak with their reporters for an entire year while in office.
WJAX published a quote from Nelson regarding her successful ousting of Angela Corey.
“I believed that we deserve more in our justice system and that’s why I ran. Tonight, this victory gives voice to what our community expects from our justice system.”
Nelson was able to secure Angela Corey’s ouster by gathering the support of a wide range of groups, including liberals and moderate Republicans. She even garnered the favor of the National Rifle Association, who were at odds with Corey due to the Zimmerman and Alexander cases.
The woman responsible for Angela Corey’s ouster has participated in several high-profile cases herself. She was one of Fernandez’s defense lawyers and also served on the defense of Florida State University when a woman, claiming to have been raped by FSU quarterback Jameis Winston, sued the school.
Nelson was declared the official winner of the election on Wednesday after a write-in candidate, Kenny Leigh, dropped out of the race. Doing so was a formality at best, as Leigh’s loss was almost certain. Florida has never elected a write-in candidate to be state attorney, and Leigh had not campaigned or raised money.
The Florida Times-Union reports that Nelson’s election to state attorney gives Corey the dubious honor of being the first incumbent in modern times to be ousted in a contested state attorney election. She will leave the office in early January.
[Photo by Rick Wilson/AP Images]