Judge Orders King Children to Resume Documenting Papers

November 2, 2008 at 6:55 am Leave a comment

king-children-3.jpgA judge has ordered Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter to resume
documenting her mother’s personal papers, which are at the center of a
family feud among the civil rights icon’s surviving children.

Bernice King and brother Martin Luther King III again faced off in court Friday against another brother, Dexter King.

Dexter, CEO of King Inc., wants a judge to order
Bernice, the administrator of her mother’s estate, to turn over
personal papers, including intimate letters between Coretta Scott King
and Martin Luther King Jr.

The documents were part of a $1.4 million book
deal with Penguin Group for a memoir about the civil rights matriarch,
but that deal fell though earlier this month after the family missed a
deadline from the New York-based publisher to turn the documents over.
It is unclear now whether the documents can or will be used for any
future such deals.

“Penguin declared that King, Inc. was in
default,” said attorney Craig Frankel, who does not represent the
organization but is Dexter King’s personal lawyer. “For the time being,
(King, Inc.) is unable to comply with the terms of the contract.”

Bernice and Martin Luther King III both say that the book goes against their mother’s wishes.

The siblings and their attorneys sat down for
more than four hours Friday after cooperation between them had stalled
on a previous court order for Bernice King to begin producing her
mother’s personal items.

The issue of whether Coretta Scott King’s papers
are the property of her husband’s estate, which Dexter King controls,
remains undecided for now, but Frankel said he was pleased with
Friday’s progress and that the process of cataloguing hundreds of boxes
of Coretta Scott King’s property — being managed by a court-appointed
“special master” — will resume as early as Monday.

The cataloguing is necessary before a judge can decide whether the documents should be turned over.

Coretta Scott King died in January 2006 of
complications from ovarian cancer after suffering a stroke a few months
earlier. Her estate was being managed by the Kings’ eldest child,
Yolanda, but she died suddenly last year after suffering a heart attack.

Relations among the remaining King siblings have
become increasingly strained and the public feud came to a head this
summer with the filing of three lawsuits. On Friday, media, clergy,
lawyers and supporters — including the Rev. Al Sharpton — packed the
hearing.

Speaking after the hearing as he headed to the
airport to catch a flight back to California, Dexter King said his
fight with his siblings boils down to a “power grab” by his sister, and
maintained that Coretta Scott King did want her memoir published by the
Rev. Barbara Reynolds.

“My mother would not have given her that type of
access if there was any kind of issue,” Dexter King said of Reynolds,
an ordained minister and former journalist who said her 30-year
relationship with Coretta Scott King led to a series of taped
interviews between the women that would be used to write a book on
King’s life.

Source: USA Today

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