Saturday, December 31, 2011
When civil rights icon Rosa Parks died in 2005, she left most of her estate to the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development, a nonprofit she had founded in 1987 with her friend, Elaine Steele. The nonprofit's purpose is to teach young people leadership and character development. Her heirs, nieces and nephews, challenged her will and trust and in 2007 entered into a Settlement Agreement with the institute. Last April the Michigan Appeals Court held that statements by counsel regarding fees in the appellate case had breached a confidentiality provision of the Settlement Agreement between the institute and Rosa Parks' heirs. The Appeals Court had ordered the institute to transfer property to the heirs in compensation for the breach. The Supreme Court reversed that decision and remanded the case to the Probate Court with instructions to implement the Settlement Agreement. The decision "will allow the institute the financial solvency and ability to carry on Rosa Parks' legacy," said institute lawyer Steven G. Cohen. Parks' estate included memorabilia that may be worth millions. A New York auction house, Guernsey's Auctioneers, will try to find buyers for some of the memorabilia. See stories in the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News.