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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – A circuit judge has refused to dismiss a constitutional challenge in which the Broward County clerk of courts argues that the state has improperly diverted millions of dollars in fees from court operations.

Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers, in a two-page order, rejected state motions to dismiss the case.

Broward County Clerk of Courts Howard Forman, a former state senator, filed the lawsuit in May, alleging that the state unconstitutionally diverted a portion of court-filing fees to general revenue and trust funds. The lawsuit contends the diversions forced clerks to cut their budgets because of a lack of money.

State motions to dismiss the case raised a number of issues and said lawmakers did not improperly use the fees.

“To the extent he (Forman) seeks a declaration that the money appropriated by the Legislature for the operation of the court clerks’ offices is insufficient, this (circuit) court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this political question,” one of the motions said. “A court cannot order the Legislature to appropriate funds.”

But Gievers, who held a hearing December 5th, said in the order that “the four corners of the complaint state a cause of action” and that the case can move forward.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.


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