COLUMBIA — The S.C. Supreme Court has granted a request by Attorney General (AG) Alan Wilson and others to hear the appeal of four-year-old gag orders related to the “diaries” of Tommie Rae Hynie, companion of music legend James Brown.
Hynie, joined by Wilson and current Brown trustee Russell Bauknight, asked the Supreme Court to hear the appeal filed in August by Newberry resident and former Brown trustee Adele Pope.
Pope’s appeal asks the Court to overturn an order of Aiken Circuit Judge Doyet Early in which Early refused to set aside gag orders he issued in 2008.
The gag orders prevent dissemination and discussion of the contents of handwritten notes, kept by Hynie, which have come to be known as the “Hynie diary.” The notes were found abandoned at Brown’s Beech Island home after his death in 2006, according to original trustee Albert “Buddy” Dallas.
Pope’s pleadings claim that more than 40 people had knowledge of the diary contents before the gag orders were issued, and Early’s refusal to void the orders violates her First Amendment rights.
The orders were issued without any notice or hearing.
Pope is a defendant in a multi-million dollar lawsuit in Richland County, brought by Hynie, former AG Henry McMaster, and others. The suit claims she and co-trustee Robert Buchanan of Aiken damaged the Brown estate during the 18 months they served as trustees. At a hearing before Judge Early in May, Pope claimed that lifting the gag orders was crucial to her defense and counterclaims in the lawsuit, where she and Buchanan have asserted that Hynie was not Brown’s spouse.
A longtime friend of Brown’s has said the diary records how Hynie pleaded with Brown to marry her. The two exchanged vows in 2001 but she was married to another man at the time. Brown was humiliated after he discovered her previous marriage and said he would not marry her, according to a sworn statement taken by Dallas in July.
In filings, Pope asserts that the gag orders, if not lifted, would promote fraud in an on-going court case. She claims 14 of Hynie’s witnesses in the Richland County case have knowledge of the diary contents, previously asserted that Hynie was not Brown’s spouse—but are now gagged from discussing the diary contents.
Pope and Buchanan were sued after they appealed a settlement deal forged by former AG McMaster. The McMaster deal took over half the assets Brown’s estate plan intended for “I Feel Good” Trust, which was to provide scholarships to needy children, and gave them to Hynie and others who challenged the will.
The order did not state when the appeal would be heard.