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Judge: Counties Shouldn't Pay for Regional Counsel

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - A judge says the Legislature violated
the Florida Constitution when it passed a law requiring counties to
cover the costs of court-appointed attorneys.

The 2007 Legislature created regional counsel offices to replace
court-appointed attorneys. Twenty-five counties claimed that
legislation violated the Florida Constitution by shifting funding
responsibilities for those offices from the state to the counties.

Circuit Court Judge John C. Cooper agreed Thursday that the Legislature had "run afoul" of the constitution by requiring
counties to pay for the regional offices. He also said the
constitution clearly spells out that counties are not responsible
for funding court-appointed counsel.

The Florida Association of Counties calls the judge's opinion
"a great order for the counties."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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