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Judge Orders Release of James Brown Documents

A judge in South Carolina has ordered the state’s attorney general to turn over documents to a freelance journalist, investigating the ongoing court fight over the estate of James Brown.

The journalist Sue Summer was granted to see the records, that included a diary of a woman who claimed to be Brown’s wife upon the singer’s death in Christmas 2006, an appraisal of Brown’s assets and documents showing an estimate of how much was paid to trustees and attorney by Brown’s estate. The request to see the records was under South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act, which allows public records to be kept secret under specific circumstances.

Circuit Judge Eugene Griffith Jr. had ruled against Attorney General Alan Wilson, as he found the position in not having to be forced to release Brown’s records, due to being a part of different lawsuits, to be “inconsistent with both letter and spirit” of South Carolina’s open records act. Wilson was given until next week to hand the records over to Summer, but can argue what can be kept private if shown to Summer’s lawyer and the judge for a hearing.

According to Summer, the reason in pursuing the request in seeing the records, was to make sure Brown’s dying wish in paying scholarships for poor children in Aiken County and Augusta, Georgia was fulfilled. The case was one of the many following Brown’s death, which included his estate split to widow Tomi Rae Hynie, his adult children, and to a charitable trust.