For the Observer
COLUMBIA — Robert Rosen, attorney for James Brown companion Tommie Rae Hynie, has asked the S.C. Court of Appeals to transfer to the S.C. Supreme Court an appeal filed by former Brown trustee Adele Pope of Newberry.
The appeal is related to the “Hynie diary,” which was the subject of gag orders issued four years ago. The gag orders prevent Pope and others from discussing the contents of the “diary,” which, according to original Brown trustee Albert “Buddy” Dallas, was found abandoned in Brown’s home after his 2006 death.
According to a longtime Brown friend, the diary contains “explosive” evidence that Hynie was not married to James Brown, as she has claimed to the court and would therefore not be entitled to a spousal share of his estate.
Supporting this assertion is a sworn statement by Dallas, taken in the summer of 2012. Dallas testified that he, Brown and Hynie discussed in 2006 that because she and Brown were not married, her status was that of a guest in Brown’s home.
In May 2012 Aiken County Judge Doyet A. Early III conducted a hearing on Pope’s request to be released from the diary gag orders so that she could defend herself in Hynie’s multi-million dollar lawsuit filed in 2010 against Pope and her co-trustee, Aiken County attorney Robert Buchanan.
The suit asserts that Pope and Buchanan caused tens of millions of dollars in damages to Brown’s estate and trust during their 18-month tenure as trustees.
Hynie and S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson have since endorsed a filing of current trustee Russell Bauknight with the Internal Revenue Service, which claims the world-wide music empire of legendary entertainer James Brown was worth less than $4.7 million when he died.
Last year, the music interests of his estate earned over $10 million, according to court filings. In his July 2012 order, Early declared that he lacked jurisdiction to void the gag orders, which he issued in February 2008 and March 2008. Pope filed an immediate notice of appeal and brief in the S.C. Court of Appeals, asserting that Early should have taken jurisdiction and declared the gag orders void because they violate her First Amendment rights, as well as the rights of more than 50 others.
According to the Hynie motion filed Nov. 16, Pope’s appeal was a blatant effort to re-litigate issues pending in Wilson v. Dallas, which was heard by the S.C. Supreme Court on Nov. 1, 2011. No opinion has been issued in that case.
Hynie’s motion claims Pope “inexplicably” moved for Early to vacate the gag orders after the Supreme Court heard arguments in that case over a year ago.
In a response to Rosen’s request for a transfer of the appeal, Pope filed a return and affidavit on Nov. 19. Pope said she does not object to the transfer but asked that the appeal be expedited. She asserts her First Amendment and due process rights will continue to be violated until the 4-1/2 year old gag orders are declared void or expired.
In Pope’s return, she asserts that keeping more than 50 persons gagged from discussing the widely-known diary contents is inappropriate. She claims what is “inexplicable” is Wilson’s decision to side with Hynie in an attempt to uphold gag orders that are, on their face, unconstitutional.
According to Pope’s filing, the gag orders are a clear prior restraint on First Amendment right of free speech and are defective in other ways.
She also asserts the AG’s office and others have openly violated the gag orders since they were issued in 2008. (Hynie herself discussed the diary contents in a 2008 television interview.)
Pope also questioned why the AG would use clearly unconstitutional gag orders to refuse requests for his copy of the diary under the S.C. Freedom of Information Act.
“Declaring the Gag Orders void will allow Appellant (Pope) to defend herself against the claims of Hynie and the State.It will also play a part in Appellant’s restoration of her reputation by refuting the false claim of the AG that she and Buchanan committed the federal crime of overstating Brown’s assets for an improper purpose,” the motion stated.
In the summer of 2012, Rosen accused Pope of filing “works of fiction” with the Court. Pope immediately asked for a hearing to determine who was misrepresenting the value of Brown’s music empire: was it worth about $85 million, as Pope and Buchanan claimed, or the less than $4.7 million claimed by Hynie, Wilson, and Bauknight?
Early set a hearing, but it was cancelled when he declined to proceed with Pope’s request.
In Brown’s estate plan, which Buchanan and Pope are defending in the Wilson v. Dallas appeal, Brown left his entire music empire to the education of certain grandchildren and to the “I Feel Good Trust” for educating needy students in South Carolina and Georgia.
Hynie and her son were omitted from the estate plan. The six children Brown acknowledged were given his personal and household effects. The settlement deal worked by former AG Henry McMaster is the subject of the Pope/Buchanan appeal. The deal rewrites Brown’s estate plan and takes more than half of the music empire from the charity and gives it to Brown’s children and Hynie.
In an affidavit filed with the return, Pope stated, “I have believed since at least Nov. 20, 2007, that Tommie Rae Hynie was not the spouse of James Brown, based in part on the widely-known Hynie ‘diary’ contents.”