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Florida Judge Skeptical Of Prison Privatization

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One of President Obama's nominees is Florida state judge Darrin Gayles, who would be the first openly gay black man to serve on the federal bench if confirmed by the Senate.  (credit: Thinkstock)

One of President Obama’s nominees is Florida state judge Darrin Gayles, who would be the first openly gay black man to serve on the federal bench if confirmed by the Senate. (credit: Thinkstock)

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A Florida judge is raising questions about whether it was legal for the state to move ahead with a plan to privatize nearly 3,000 jobs in the state’s prisons.

Circuit Judge John Cooper spent more than two hours Monday hearing a lawsuit from three unions that challenged a move by the state’s prison agency to privatize prison health care operations.

Cooper did not rule from the bench, but said he needed more information before he can decide whether it was legal for an obscure legislative panel to sign off on the privatization proposal in September.

Lawyers for the unions contend that the Department of Corrections needed permission from the entire Legislature in order to spend money on the privatization plan. Agency lawyers assert that approval by the panel was legal.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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