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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 February 2007, 10:46 GMT
James Brown's widow returns home
Tomi Rae Hynie
Hynie was in court to settle disputes over James Brown's estate
The partner of late soul legend James Brown has been allowed back into their shared home after a judge ruled she could retrieve her belongings.

Tomi Rae Hynie, 36, said she had been locked out of the South Carolina house since Brown died in December, aged 73.

She collected personal items, including a dress and other clothing, accompanied by the estate's trustees and three of Brown's six adult children.

Ms Hynie has clashed with Brown's family, who dispute their marriage.

They contend that Ms Hynie, a former backing singer in Brown's tour band, was already married when she exchanged vows with the soul star in 2001, making their marriage void.

Her previous marriage was later annulled but she and Brown never held another ceremony, they say.

Ms Hynie, and the son she had with Brown, were left out of the singer's will, which was filed in January.

'Unpaid taxes'

Tomi Rae Hynie and Venisha Brown
Hynie embraced Brown's daughter, Venisha, following the judge's ruling
However, she has united with the star's children in an attempt to remove three trustees who are handling Brown's estate, which they claim has been mismanaged.

Louis Levenson, a lawyer for Brown's children, claims trustees allowed taxes to go unpaid and a judgment over a land sale to go unanswered.

Ms Hynie's lawyer also claims bills were unpaid and electricity was cut off while the representatives were in charge of the estate.

Together, they are seeking the appointment of a special administrator to look after the trust.

Lawyers for the trustees have in return asked a for a restraining order and injunction against Brown's children, saying they have interfered with the administration of the estate.

"From the moment they tried to act as personal representatives, we have been met with contempt," said Strom Thurmond Jr, a lawyer handling Brown's will.

Burial ruling

James Brown lies in state at the Apollo Theatre
Thousands turned out to pay their respects to James Brown
Judge Doyet Early said he would decide on the children's request next week.

He also ordered that no personal items be sold from Brown's home to pay off bills.

Brown, who was known for hits such as I Got You (I Feel Good) and Get Up (I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine), died on Christmas Day after being admitted to hospital with severe pneumonia.

Several memorial services were held, with both fans and celebrities paying tributes to the self-proclaimed Godfather Of Soul.

His body remains in a sealed, gold casket in an undisclosed location awaiting a decision on where to bury it.

Judge Early told the children, Ms Hynie and the trustees on Friday to not discuss burial plans with the media and to try to resolve the issue among themselves.


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