The Michigan Supreme Court has ordered a judge to return the estate of civil rights icon Rosa Parks to her longtime friend Elaine Steele and the institute the two women founded in 1987 to carry on Parks' legacy.
In a tersely worded order Thursday, the high court said Wayne County Probate Judge Freddie Burton Jr. and the Michigan Court of Appeals wrongly stripped Steele and the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development of their financial stake in Parks' estate.
The Supreme Court said Steven Cohen, the lawyer for Steele and the institute, did not divulge details of a 2007 confidentiality agreement that resolved an estate dispute involving the institute, Steele and Parks' 13 nieces and nephews.
Cohen said Thursday's decision is a significant victory for his clients.
"They are thrilled and gratified that Rosa Parks' wishes are finally being honored," he said.
He said the order requires Burton to return all of his clients' property and, within 30 days, to remove attorneys John Chase Jr. and Melvin Jefferson Jr., whom Burton put in charge of the estate after Parks died in 2005. They are to be replaced with Steele and retired 36th District Judge Adam Shakoor, whom Parks had designated to handle her estate. Steele is Parks' longtime friend, assistant and caregiver.
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Michigan Supreme Court Orders Rosa Parks' Estate Returned to Longtime Friend, Institute
Lawyer: Rosa Parks' Estate Drained