A judge has ruled in the most recent Martin Luther King Jr. family dispute. When it comes to the late civil rights icon’s Bible and Nobel Peace Prize, the court has decided to take ownership.
According to the AP, the prized items will be placed in a safe deposit box controlled by the court. “I find that, at this point, that is a fair, equitable balance of the competing interests,” Fulton County Judge Robert McBurney said after two and half hours of arguments from lawyers on both sides.
The original complaint was filed by Martin Luther King III and Dexter King on Jan. 31. As the controllers of their father’s estate, the sons asked a judge order their sister, Bernice King, to return the property.
William Hill, a lawyer for the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr. Inc., said the Bible and peace prize medal belong to the estate under a 1995 agreement in which King’s heirs signed over their rights to many items they inherited from him. Eric Barnum, a lawyer for Bernice, said his client doesn’t believe those items are part of the estate and doesn’t believe her father’s most cherished possessions should be sold.
Hill urged McBurney to issue an immediate order asking Bernice to turn over the items, saying the money that would come in from the sale or lease of the items was crucial to the estate’s viability. People or entities interested in buying or leasing the items for public display had come forward but the offers won’t last long, Hill said, though he didn’t say who the interested parties are or why their offers had a short shelf life.
At the end of the trial, sources said both lawyers for both sides felt the ruling “was fair.”
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