Ex-trustees seek judge's recusal

AIKEN --- Two former James Brown trustees are trying to get Judge Jack Early recused from hearing the case, a little more than a month after they accused him of improperly pressuring them to quit working for the estate.


Court papers filed late last week indicate there might be a court hearing Friday to decide whether Judge Early stays or goes. The attorney for Buddy Dallas and Alford Bradley filed a motion Dec. 29, asking that a judge be appointed by the state's court administration to hear their recusal motion.

But Stanley Jackson, attorney for the two men, said he was not sure what the status of that request is, or whether there will be a hearing at all.

"I'm not at liberty to make any comments about it," he said Monday.

Mr. Dallas said he also doesn't know whether the hearing will take place and said he can't discuss their arguments for why a different judge should be handling the legal challenges to Mr. Brown's estate.

"I don't have any comment," he said.

Judge Early's law clerk has said that he cannot comment about pending legal matters he's overseeing.

No one in South Carolina's court administration office on Monday could answer questions about the recusal motion.

Mr. Dallas and Mr. Bradley resigned Nov. 20, right before Judge Early was to preside over a hearing on allegations of misconduct by the pair. The two had been named by Mr. Brown as his personal estate representatives and as trustees of two charitable trusts he set up.

Ten days later, the two filed papers to take back their resignations, saying in court papers that Judge Early used "improper judicial influence" to get their resignations and then violated state law when he named their replacements.

Specifically, they say Judge Early sent a letter asking them to resign before ever hearing any evidence of wrongdoing, saying that "if a resignation was not tendered, it would 'be ugly' and sanctions would be imposed."

After accepting their resignations, Judge Early elevated two attorneys he'd appointed to help settle the late singer's estate to replace them.

They will now oversee the two trusts Mr. Brown willed the bulk of his estate to, which are to pay for the educations of his grandchildren and needy kids.

Those trusts are now being fought over -- with the singer's children and disputed fourth wife arguing that they were not legal, and the attorney general's offices in South Carolina and Georgia arguing that they are valid.

Also on Dec. 29, five of Mr. Brown's children filed papers asking that his will be voided.

Reach Sandi Martin at (803) 648-1395, ext. 111, or sandi.martin@augustachronicle.com.