January 25, 2007
The lawyer who represented James Brown for years fired back today at claims that he and others have mismanaged his estate.
This comes a day after six of the Godfather's children went to court to try to get the estate trustees fired.
James Brown's children say the trustees appointed in Brown's will unlawfully entered their father's home on Douglas Road in Beech Island Tuesday (January 23). So yesterday, they hit the trustees with a lawsuit.
The emergency petition filed in Aiken County accuses the trustees of taking documents hidden in secret locations and preventing the children from even coming on their father's property. It requests that the trustees be removed from their positions as executors of Brown's 62-acre estate.
It may be a legal war of words that could last months or years. But today, Brown legal adviser Buddy Dallas told News 12's Diane Cho that he and the other trustees are just trying to protect the estate of the singer who died a month ago.
"The children don't have to be informed," Dallas said. "The trustees have authority as trustees to go on the property."
"Photos were taken, measurements taken in areas of interest, all of it within our legal parameters," he went on.
Buddy Dallas contends he and the other trustees, along with the estate's attorneys and two private investigators, were there to begin inventory on the home and to set up a security system to protect the Godfather of Soul's estate.
"All of it was done under the watchful eye of the security guard," Dallas said.
That security guard, Col. Joseph Lee, says in a written affidavit: "I personally witnessed some members of the group investigating a secret compartment in a room of the house.
"This compartment is housed behind a picture and was not open prior to the arrival of the above named group."
"No document was taken," Dallas responded. "Yes, there was looking around, some crucial areas that need protecting. Yes, we looked around, but nothing was taken from the property."
But above all, he says the allegations that the trustees never reached out to James Brown's children are simply not true.
"First act of the trustees was to reach out to Deanna Brown Thomas and Yamma Brown Lumar and name them executive assistants to the board of trustees. And the next day, apparently, we're being sued by the same two people we reached out to. I find that strange and puzzling."
Dallas isn't happy with the six kids taking him to court.
He says he's represented James Brown for 24 years and even considered Deanna and Yamma as his own.
"At no point did Deanna or Yamma say, 'Mr. Dallas, I don't trust you. I don't think like this.' And then I got a lawsuit served on me. So I guess that expresses their true feelings."
While the will lists all six of James Brown's adult children by name as the heirs of Mr. Brown's belongings, Dallas, Alfred Bradley and David Cannon are named as the personal representatives.
Dallas says there was a specific reason James Brown wrote the will in that language.
"Anyone who knew James Brown will tell you, no one told him what to do with what was his. And certainly not his children. These are the same kids who sued their father. He never got over that."
Dallas says the trustees' plan to carry out what he says were James Brown's wishes: using much of the money in the trust to educate needy children.
A hearing on the family's emergency petition to remove the trustees is set for Aiken County Probate Court next Thursday, February 1.