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Mich. High Court Reverses Rosa Parks Estate Ruling

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Mary Marow holds a photo of civil rights activist Rosa Parks outside the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. (JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)

Mary Marow holds a photo of civil rights activist Rosa Parks outside the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. (JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)

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DETROIT (AP)- A decision by the Michigan Supreme Court will remove two attorneys from overseeing the estate of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks, a lawyer said Friday.

In a brief order, the court ordered a Wayne County judge to stick to an agreement that puts Parks’ friend, Elaine Steele, and a former judge, Adam Shakoor, in charge.

Parks became a civil rights pioneer for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white man in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955. She later lived in Detroit and died in 2005 at age 92.

Parks left almost all her estate to the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute, whose purpose is to teach young people leadership and character development.

When Parks’ nieces and nephews challenged the estate, a judge appointed John Chase Jr. and Melvin Jefferson Jr. as fiduciaries. Steven G. Cohen, an attorney for the institute, has accused them of eating up more than $200,000 through fees.

The Supreme Court did not comment directly about the performance of Chase and Jefferson, but its order scratches many decisions by Wayne County Judge Freddie Burton Jr., who put the men in charge, Cohen said.

That includes the hiring of Guernsey’s Auctioneers in New York to find a buyer for more than 8,000 items that belonged to Parks, possessions that could raise millions for the estate. But the court’s decision may force Guernsey’s to the sidelines.

“The institute will be reviewing Guernsey’s role. It’s highly doubtful we’ll want Guernsey in control of the collection,” Cohen said.

Alan May, a lawyer who represents Chase and Jefferson, declined to comment.

© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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