DETROIT (WXYZ) - She was heralded as the matriarch of the Civil Rights Movement but the fight over the Rosa Parks Estate has taken another bizarre turn, with a lawyer seeking to remove the judge hearing the case from the bench.
It has been a long running, contentious battle between attorney Steven G. Cohen and Wayne County Probate Court Judge Burton, with lawsuits and appeals running over many of the seven years of issues concerning the estate, the Parks foundations and Parks’ relatives.
Along the way, attorney Cohen has claimed the Judge hearing the case has acted improperly and should be removed. He sued the judge for damages, but Judge Burton dismissed the lawsuit against himself.
Now, Cohen says he will file a complaint with the Judicial Tenure Commission.
“It’s hard to describe how egregious it is,” Cohen told 7 Action News.
He represents the Rosa and Raymond Parks institute for self development.
He says of Judge Burton, “He’s a defendant in a case in his own court room, and he has simply dismissed the case without ever answering the complaint, without a motion for dismissal being filed, and without doing what he should have done - which is to disqualify him from the case.”
Cohen insists the court order dismissing his lawsuit against Judge Burton, signed and ordered by Burton himself, is, according to Cohn, just the latest misconduct from the Bench.
“He’s granted hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees to court cronies, he has taken away property from my clients, and he’s entered a series of orders without conducting hearings.” Cohen continued “the State Supreme Court ordered him to set aside a number of those orders, and he has refused to do so.”
“Well, it’s another unusual twist in a very unusual case,” says 7 Action News legal analyst Tom Cranmer. He expects the judge’s order dismissing the case where he is a defendant will be questioned, on many levels.
“The judge has decided that, apparently, that he feels comfortable in deciding a case that involves himself personally, and that’s always treading into some dangerous water,” Cranmer says.
Cohen says a visiting judge should have been appointed because “none of the other Wayne County probate judges are eligible to hear a matter involving one of their brother judges.”
Attorney Cohn is filing a request to have the court of appeals take over the Rosa Parks estate case in addition to that JTC complaint.
We called Judge Burton’s office seeking comment. His staffer said he was in a conference. We have not heard back from Judge Freddie Burton.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
More from The Investigators
One mystery that popped up during Kilpatrick's criminal trial has now been solved.
The head of the Federal Defenders office has a unique idea for the judge in Bobby Ferguson’s upcoming bid rigging trial: don’t make him say under oath if he still has assets, give him a lawyer, and if the feds scrounge up more of the former contractor’s cash in the future – pay the taxpayers back.
Funk music legend George Clinton lost his most recent court battle with local music publisher Armen Boladian.