The chief judge of Wayne County Probate Court refused Friday to remove one of his colleagues from presiding over the estate of Rosa Parks, the late civil rights icon.
Judge Milton Mack Jr. said attorney Steven Cohen of Farmington Hills failed to present any evidence to justify removing Judge Freddie Burton Jr. from the estate, which has been embroiled in controversy since Parks died in 2005.
"There has been no showing of personal bias," Mack said after a 30-minute hearing, adding that Cohen's decision to sue Burton and then demand his removal from the case amounted to "naked forum shopping."
Cohen has accused Burton of allowing Detroit probate lawyers John Chase Jr. and Melvin Jefferson Jr. to drain the estate with excessive and unnecessary legal fees. Cohen said Burton improperly dismissed his suit and then rejected Cohen's motion to disqualify himself.
Cohen represents Elaine Steele, Parks' longtime personal assistant, and the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development, which the two women formed in the 1980s. Parks left the bulk of her estate to Steele and the institute.
"This case should be a warning to the people of Wayne County that the probate court judges do not believe their authority is limited in any manner," Cohen said after court, vowing to appeal the rulings of both judges. "If a judge can dismiss a case in which he is a defendant, then he can do anything."
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Chief of Wayne County Probate Court Refuses to Take Judge Off Rosa Parks Case
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