James Brown Estate Documents To Be Made Public
A judge has ordered an attorney general to turn over documents to a freelance journalist investigating the court fight over the estate of soul singer James Brown.
Sue Summer requested to see the records, which show how much trustees and lawyers are being paid by the estate, under a Freedom of Information Act.
She also wants to see the diary of the woman who said she was Brown's wife when he died in 2006.
Summer said she is pursuing the story because she wants to make sure the I Got You singer's dying wish to pay for scholarships for poor children in South Caroline and Georgia happens.
"It is past time for the secrecy that has surrounded the James Brown estate proceedings to come to an end," she said.
"It is past time for the public to receive an answer to the question - after seven years, will Mr Brown's last wishes be honoured in the state of South Carolina?
"The needy children Mr Brown wanted to help with his education charity are waiting for an answer."
Earlier this month, Circuit Judge Eugene Griffith Jr ruled against South Carolina's Attorney General Alan Wilson, who said he should not be forced to release the records because they are part of different lawsuits over Brown's estate.
Mr Wilson's predecessor, Henry McMaster, brokered a deal in 2009 to try to stop several lawsuits over the estate.
It gave nearly half to a charitable trust, a quarter to his widow, Tomi Rae Hynie, and left the rest to be split among his adult children.
There had been speculation that Hynie was married to another man when she exchanged vows with Brown.
The state Supreme Court threw that settlement out last year, saying it ignored Brown's wishes for most of his money to go to charity.
The lawsuit was brought by the original trustees of Brown's estate. But the justices also ruled they should not be let back into the estate because they managed it so poorly.
The dispute remains in court nearly eight years after the Godfather of Soul died on Christmas Day 2006.
Summer said no one has any idea what Brown's estate is worth.
In their decision, the state Supreme Court gave estimates ranging from $5m (£3m) to more than $100m (£58m).