Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Never-Ending Wrong

An interesting decision of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals deals with the literary estate of noted writer Katherine Anne Porter. Ms. Porter died testate in 1980, leaving a literary trust for the benefit of the University of Maryland College Park. The power to appoint trustees was left to her executor, noted Washington lawyer E. Barrett Prettyman, Jr. Mr. Prettyman appointed a close friend of Ms. Porter named Barbara Davis and, later, named two other trustees.

Davis transferred the trust assets to an entity that she had created and secured a court order terminating the trust. The order of termination was challenged, leading to a court determination to reestablish the trust. Davis appealed.

The court here ruled that there were irregularities in securing the termination of the trust that warranted the court's resumption of trust supervision. Notice had not been given of the proceedings to the University, the State, or to the others trustees. The trial court order that prevents Davis from disposing of the trust assets was not an improperly imposed injunction; rather, the court had the authority to enter the order as part of its supervisory role with respect to trust assets. (Mike Frisch)

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