Judge rules Brown estate trustees stay, will appoint special administrator

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February 20, 2007

AIKEN, S.C.---Judge Jack Early has ruled James Brown's personal representatives can stay on the job.

The decision is a win for both parties. The trustees get to keep their jobs, but the judge also agreed to appoint a special administrator to help oversee the estate.

Judge Early ruled that because there's no credible evidence proving any wrongdoing by the personal representatives, Buddy Dallas, Alfred Bradley and David Cannon, removing them from their positions is not warranted.

Judge Early also states specifically in his six page response that the as-yet unnamed special administrator would have limited authority.

The judge says the special administrator is to monitor the personal representatives, and if at any point they can't reach an agreement, the court would then take the matters into its own hands.

The judge's ruling also states the special administrator would also have the authority to investigate any improprieties by the trustees.

Rodney Peeples, who represents the three trustees, tells News 12 the three men have no problem with the judge's decision.

He stated that he hopes that his clients will now be able to get back to the job they should've already started weeks ago without worrying about any more interruptions with frivolous lawsuits.

Judge Early also ordered everyone who has removed any of Mr. Brown's personal belongings from the Beech Island estate to return those back to the trustees and special administrator.

That includes everything from keys and mail to checkbooks and safe combinations.

The judge wants all the attorneys involved to agree on a special administrator. If they can't agree, they'll be allowed to submit candidates for the court to review and decide upon.

Here are some of the events that led up to today's ruling...

James Brown died last Christmas day.

That day, Tomi Rae was not allowed back into the Beech Island home she says she shared with the late singer.

On January 11, Brown's will was read to his adult children. Tomi Rae and her son were not mentioned.

On January 24, an attorney for Brown's adult children filed a petition in Aiken County Probate Court, asking the court to remove the three trustees.

Four days later, police were called to Brown's Beech Island home after a dispute between the family and the trustees.

On February 1, Tomi Rae filed a petition contesting the will.

Then on February 6, the trustees fired the security guards at the house.

On February 9, all sides went to court, and today, the judge made his decision.

News 12 has also learned the singer's body could be buried soon. An attorney for Tomi Rae Brown says she and James Brown's six adult children have reached an agreement on that.

The attorney says the burial--in a confidential place--may take place in the next few days.

The funeral director says he checked on the body today, and, as he put it, "He's fine."

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