gavel_web.jpgTALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ The Florida Supreme Court says the state, not counties, must pay for new legal offices that help represent indigent defendants.

The justices unanimously ruled on Thursday that a 2007 law creating the offices unconstitutionally passed overhead expenses to Florida's 67 counties.

They cited their 2008 ruling that upheld the law on other grounds.

In that case, the justices ruled Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel Offices are not the same as public defenders.

Instead, they are more like the private court-appointed lawyers they replaced to handle case in which public defenders have conflicts of interest.

The Florida Constitution says counties can be required to pay some court expenses including public defenders' overhead.


It doesn't, though, allow the state to make counties pay for court-appointed lawyers.