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Michigan probate ruling overturned in Rosa Parks case

Oakland County residents will be interested to hear of a recent court ruling with regard to the estate of the late civil rights icon Rosa Parks. In what was said to be a sternly written order, the Michigan Supreme Court overturned a previous decision handed down by a Wayne County probate judge and the Michigan Court of Appeals. The original probate dispute centered on a $10 million memorabilia collection and the intellectual property rights of the late civil rights activist.

The more recent ruling declared that the Wayne County judge and the Michigan Court of Appeals were incorrect when they ruled that the lawyer for Elaine Steele, a longtime friend of Parks and cofounder of the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development, had breached a confidentiality agreement. That agreement had previously resolved a dispute involving the institute, Steele, and Parks' 13 nieces and nephews.

According to the latest order, the attorneys who were put in charge of the estate after Parks died must now be removed. In accordance with Parks' wishes, those attorneys will be replaced with Steele and a Michigan district court judge.

The attorney for Steele and the institute alleged that the now-ousted attorneys for the estate had used undue authority in previous probate disputes and allowed excessive fees to build up. Those fees were said to have taken almost $243,000 out of the Parks estate.

The lawyer for the institute had this to say for his clients: "They are thrilled and gratified that Rosa Parks' wishes are finally being honored."

Source: Detroit Free Press, "Rosa Parks ruling overturned; Elaine Steele, institute regain financial stakes," Dec. 30, 2011

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