First On 12: S.C. Supreme Court steps into James Brown Estate case

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UPDATE April, 22, 2015

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW) -- The South Carolina Supreme Court orders Judge Early, a judge ordered to oversee the Estate and Trust of James Brown, to review the fee's paid in relation to the estate and respond back to the Supreme Court within twenty days.

The order was filed on April 20, 2015. It requests Judge Early give the court a thorough and detailed update on the status of the action ordered to be taken including who has been determined to be the beneficiary of the Estate and Trust of James Brown. It also asks Judge Early to report whether any DNA testing ordered on Tommie Rae Hynie has been made.

The full order from the court has been attached to this story.

News 12 at 6 o' clock/ Feb. 25, 2015

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW) -- It looks like the legal battle involving the estate left behind by the Godfather of Soul isn't over after all. South Carolina Supreme Court justices are putting all rulings and hearings involving the case on hold.

This likely means the state's highest court will settle the matter once and for all.

The S.C. Supreme Court issued the order Friday. It's a short order, only two sentences long, but it's two sentences that pack a punch.

"It was just, wow. Nobody could have expected it or anticipated it. It is a blockbuster. The most powerful two sentence order I have ever seen," said Attorney David Bell.

Bell represents three of James Brown's children. He says this all started when the SC State Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal from Adele Pope, a former court-appointed executor of James Brown's estate.

"The issue was a very narrow one they agreed to look at. It's almost as if they agreed to do that just to get a vehicle to look at the entire case," he explains.

Bell says he's never heard of a state supreme court stepping in this way.

"They entered the ruling without any motion. It was on their own direction. It was very simple but very broad," he said.

The first sentence in the order asks the Aiken County court for everything in the case, all orders and rulings since May 2013, which is the last time the state's supreme court issued a ruling related to the estate of James Brown.

"The second stays all action. It stops everything in the will contest, the estate and trust of James Brown, and in the marital status case involving Tommie Rae Hynie," said Bell.

Just a few weeks ago, an Aiken County judge ruled Tommie Rae Hynie was the legal spouse of the Godfather of Soul when he died. That decision meant she was entitled to half of the estate. But now, that decision, and every other decision involving the James Brown estate is on hold until the SC Supreme Court says otherwise.

Bell says one of two things will probably happen from here. The supreme court will either read all of the cases that lower courts have decided and make their decision from there. However, what he says is more likely to happen, the SC Supreme Court will list the problems they have with what has already been decided and allow attorneys to weigh in before they make their final decision.

Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW) -- The South Carolina Supreme Court is pausing the case regarding the James Brown Estate. The court issued the order Feb. 19th.

Attorney David Bell, who is the attorney for three of James Brown's children, says this is not a "stay" but rather the case has been put on hold until the court decides what to do.

Bell says in his 40 years of working in law, this has never happened and that the ruling is unprecedented.

No word on details as to why it's been put on hold or what this may mean for the case.

In the order, the SC Supreme Court says, "We hereby direct the Aiken County Clerk of Court to provide this Court with all orders issued in any action related to the Estate and Trusts of James Brown and the marital status of Tommie Rae Hynie a/k/a Tommie Rae Brown since May 8, 2013."

The order continues, saying, "All proceedings in the Aiken County Circuit Court involving the Estate and Trusts of James Brown and the marital status of Tommie Rae Hynie...shall be stayed pending further order of this Court."

Check back with News 12 for more information about the ruling.