Reporter in James Brown case called into court to stop publication of her stories
by Robert Joseph Baker | January 31, 2015 10:28 am
From S.C. News Exchange
A Newberry reporter is being called into a hearing in Circuit Court Monday in an attempt to prevent publication of her stories on a diary involved in the James Brown estate case. She has also been ordered to bring notes, background information and her cellphone.
“The is a major test for the Shield Law and the prohibition of prior restraint on publication,” said Bill Rogers, S.C. Press Association executive director.
SCPA attorney Jay Bender said, “the first and fourteenth amendments have consistently been interpreted to preclude prior restraint of publication except in the most extreme circumstances. If the Pentagon Papers publication cannot be enjoined, what is the justification of stopping publication of a diary that has been submitted to a court?”
Reporter Sue Summer said she published the documents and story at midnight Thursday and her attorneys sent Judge Doyet Early a letter that informed him of the publication.
Judge Early signed an ex parte restraining order Friday morning.
Friday at 2:05 p.m., she was served with a subpoena that requires her presence at a hearing in Aiken on Monday at 2 p.m. The restraining order, however, does not mention when and where a hearing will be held (the order says within 10 days).
An Aiken judge ruled on Jan. 13 that Tommie Rae Hynie was the wife of music legend James Brown when he died on Christmas Day 2006.
Summer wrote there is, however, evidence to the contrary in the pages of what appears to be the public document known as the “Hynie diary,” which was sent anonymously to Summer on Jan. 23.
The “Hynie diary” is a collection of notes that were found abandoned in the Brown home by the original three Brown trustees. The notes were transcribed and disseminated to over 40 people before Judge Early issued a series of gag orders in 2008 at the request of Tommie Rae’s attorneys. The orders, issued without a hearing, required all “diary” copies to be returned and prohibited any discussion of the “diary” contents.
In her 2007 will contest, Tommie Rae claimed she was Brown’s wife and entitled to a spousal share of his estate. Her claim was disputed by several of Brown’s children and the original trustees, who said Tommie Rae was married to another man when she and Brown exchanged vows in 2001. In other filings, Tommie Rae has characterized her 1997 marriage to Javed Ahmed as an immigration scam: she said he had other wives in Pakistan when she married him.
According to Brown’s former attorney Albert “Buddy” Dallas, Brown was so humiliated when he discovered her previous marriage that he vowed never to marry her—and he did not, even after her 2004 annulment of the Ahmed marriage.
The “diary” entries from early 2006 reveal her frustration that he would not renew their vows.
In the “diary” posts, Tommie Rae is presented as a sympathetic character, a young mother who is struggling to stay clean and sober for her son—and a loving caretaker for an aging, difficult paramour.
Still, the diary has material that could be interpreted to refute the conclusion that she was Brown’s wife.
The document includes 65 pages, and in the 13-page transcription there are over 20 references to how much she wants Brown to marry her. Among them are:
“I want to be married. I want the real respect I deserve…
If he doesn’t marry me…. it will break my heart…
If he has any respect for me, he will take me to justice of the (peace)…
I wouldn’t be the same grumpy old woman if he took me to the court house and made it right. (sic)”
In one post the “diary” records that Brown wanted to appear “single and ready to mingle,” and he is quoted as saying, “I ain’t got no wife! You get nothing.”
One entry seems to foreshadow the eight-year battle over Brown’s estate: “(T)hey would fight me for all they’re worth and they won’t be a penny when I get through with them in court.”
Brown’s estate plan left his worldwide music empire, with copyrights to over 800 songs and rights to his image, to an education charity for needy students in South Carolina and Georgia, the “I Feel Good” Trust. To six children named in the will, Brown left household goods, and he set up a family education trust of up to $2 million for some grandchildren. To Tommie Rae, he left nothing.