A Wayne County judge postponed Wednesday’s court hearing where he was to decide whether to return the estate of civil rights icon Rosa Parks to the individuals she picked for the task.
Wayne County Probate Judge Freddie Burton Jr. said he adjourned the hearing to await await instructions from the Michigan Supreme Court.
The high court ordered Burton on Dec. 29 to put Elaine Steele, Parks’ longtime assistant and caregiver, and Adam Shakoor, a retired 36th District Court judge, back in charge of the estate. They would replace attorneys John Chase Jr. and Melvin Jefferson Jr., whom Burton put in charge after Parks’ nieces and nephews contested their aunt’s will.
Burton told the Supreme Court last week that Steele is unfit for the job. Her lawyer, Steven G. Cohen, disputed that and urged the Supreme Court on Monday to remove Burton from the case.
Cohen asked the Supreme Court last summer to intervene in the case, saying Chase and Jefferson, with Burton’s help, charged the estate excessive attorney fees and trumped up phony charges that prompted Burton used to strip Steele and the institute of a share of the estate, which includes Parks’ memorabilia collection said to be worth up to $8 million. Burton said in court documents that he’d pick a suitable charity to received the forfeited chare. Cohen has complained that Burton has conducted most of the proceedings in secret.
Chase and Jefferson, through their lawyer, have denied any wrongdoing. The Michigan Court of Appeals said the lawyers recognized the worth of the memorabilia collection and added value to the estate. The appeals court faulted Steele for her conduct in the dispute.
Judge postpones hearing on Rosa Park estate dispute
January 24, 2012
Detroit Free Press