Tomi Rae wins fight; son gains say in court

AIKEN - James Brown's disputed fourth wife got her wish on Wednesday, as a judge appointed the Charleston attorney she wanted to be her son's guardian ad litem.

Judge Jack Early named Stephen Slotchiver to the position during a brief hearing in Aiken County Court, paving the way for a decision on whether to take DNA from James Brown II to determine his paternity.

The late soul singer's personal representatives have questioned whether the 5-year-old boy, who was in the courtroom Wednesday with his mother, Tomi Rae Hynie Brown, is Mr. Brown's son.

They also objected to Mr. Slotchiver, arguing that the guardian should be from the Aiken area because this is where court hearings will be held.

Mrs. Brown said she is happy that Judge Early approved her selection and "that my son is going to have a voice in all these cases."

She's challenged her husband's will - which was drafted before they wed and before their son was born and does not mention either one of them - as his "omitted spouse."

Her Charleston attorney, Robert Rosen, spoke harshly about efforts by the trustees to derail the appointment of the guardian they wanted.

The trustees "locked this boy out of his house and wouldn't give him his clothes," Mr. Rosen said. "And now they want to deprive him of his father, and they want to pick the person who's going to represent him?

"I don't think so."

The trustees - Buddy Dallas, Alford Bradley and David Cannon - have asked Judge Early to order that DNA be taken from the child, but a hearing on that issue likely won't take place until mid-May.

A tentative one set for May 2 has been delayed because Mr. Rosen asked for a continuance.

Mr. Rosen criticized the implication that James II might be illegitimate and reiterated that Mrs. Brown is willing to have her son undergo DNA testing - just as soon as the singer's other children do the same.

"He (Mr. Brown) has said to everyone who'd listen ... this is his son," Mr. Rosen said.

Other issues are also still outstanding.

Attorneys for the children named in Mr. Brown's will have accused the trustees of trying to bribe one of the singer's sons-in-law to give up any claims his children might have to the estate.

They've also asked for a full accounting of the singer's estate.

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