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      Convict wins dispute over financing courthouse

      The Michigan Supreme Court says criminal defendants can't be billed for the costs of running the local courthouse.

      The court unanimously ruled Wednesday in favor of an Allegan County convict who challenged a $1,000 penalty that accompanied his guilty plea in a drug case. The amount included $500 as his share of the court's operating costs.

      The Supreme Court says judges can't order costs that aren't authorized by the Legislature. It overturned an appeals court decision that had upheld the practice used by Allegan and other counties.

      Fred Cunningham's attorney is Anne Yantus, and she says the new ruling should greatly reduce the financial burdens on convicts who often have no ability to pay.

      The Allegan County court collected $195,000 in 2013.