AIKEN — The South Carolina Supreme Court has ordered Aiken County court officials to halt all proceedings in the complex cases regarding the estate of the late soul singer James Brown.
The Aiken Standard reported that the state’s highest court issued the order on Feb. 19.
The order told the Aiken County Clerk of Court to give the high court all orders issued in any action related to the James Brown estate and the martial status of Brown and Tommie Rae Hynie, the widow of the late musician, the newspaper reported.
The singer died on Christmas Day 2006. Since then, Hynie, members of Brown’s extended family and trustees who were once in charge of his affairs, as well as a number of outside individuals, have tussled over the size of the estate and who should control it.
“All proceedings in the Aiken County Circuit Court involving the Estate and Trusts of James Brown and the martial status of Tommie Rae Hynie a/k/a Tommie Rae Brown shall be stayed pending further order of this Court,” the newspaper quoted the S.C. Supreme Court as writing.
Jay Bender, an attorney for the South Carolina Press Association, told the newspaper the latest order might mean the S.C. Supreme Court wants to re-evaluate the case.
“I think the Supreme Court wants to ascertain what’s going on,” Bender said. “There are questions that need to be answered, and since the Supreme Court is the highest in the state, it may be exercising its right to really see what’s going on.”
Bender also is the attorney for Sue Summers, a Newberry reporter who obtained and published parts of a diary allegedly written by Hynie and found in the Brown home.
Last month, Circuit Judge Doyet Early III ruled that Hynie was legally married to Brown at the time of his death.
David Bell, lawyer for the family and estate of Brown, said the order “puts the whole case in limbo and stops everything in its tracks until the Supreme Court gives direction.”
The legal wrangling has also put on hold the foundation Brown started that was supposed to pay for educating poor children in South Carolina and Georgia.