January 17, 2007
AUGUSTA, Ga.---Tomi Rae Brown's attorney says she'll sue once James Brown's will has been filed in probate court. That should happen within a week.
Mr. Brown's attorneys say neither Tomi Rae nor her five-year-old son, James Junior, are included in the Godfather's will.
Whether Tomi Rae is entitled to half of Mr. Brown's estate is all based on whether she is in fact the soul singer's fourth wife.
Brown's former attorney says she brought all the problems on herself.
His voice and his moves captivated audiences around the world, but his personal life is center stage now.
The big question: was Tomi Rae the Godfather of Soul's legal wife?
News 12 spoke with former Brown attorney and longtime friend James Huff.
"He did not unequivocally know she was married to someone else," Huff said. "He would've never married her if he knew. He told me that."
Tomi Rae contends her marriage to Brown was legal. She says her earlier marriage to a Pakistani immigrant never existed, even though she had it annulled three years after marrying Brown.
2004 court papers show a family court judge ruled the earlier marriage never existed.
"Judge Segars Andrews ruled it void inabnicio, which is one step further from an annulment," Tomi Rae told News 12 in an earlier interview. "What that means is, it is void from the start and everything after that is legal and valid."
So does that mean Tomi Rae and James Junior are entitled to part of the estate?
"She tried to enter in a bigamous marriage with Brown," Huff said. "She later annulled it. Since then she never ceremonially married Brown, and any claim to common law marriage, according to her, she signed away."
Tomi Rae's attorney Robert Rosen says just the opposite.
News 12 has learned the same judge who granted Tomi Rae's annulment in 2004 also granted a similar annulment to a wife in Charleston County. In that case, the courts found the marriage wasn't valid because it was bigamous.
Huff says so was Tomi Rae's.
"If she's legally married to Brown as she claims, and the will was drawn a year before they married, is this fair to her?" we asked Huff.
"I'd say yes," Huff responded. "This mess she finds she and her son in is of her own doing."
"She chose to deceive him, and now she's reaped the whirlwind," he added.
Huff also tells us there was a necessary delay in order to obtain Brown's death certificate. That was obtained yesterday, so the will should be filed in probate court in the next few days.
The deadline is the 24th.