James Brown
James Brown (AP Photo)
James Brown (AP Photo)

NEWBERRY, S.C. (New York Times) — Sue Summer may seem at first glance an unlikely candidate to be involved in one of South Carolina’s most contentious press freedom cases in recent years.

She writes for a small newspaper in this placid town of 10,000, hosts a local radio “Coffee Hour” and edits a magazine food section. In her spare time, she provides day care for her 4-year-old granddaughter and helps organize community events like the Newberry Ice Cream Churn-Off.

But friends and co-workers warn that those who underestimate Mrs. Summer’s grit and tenacity do so at their peril.

“I have no dollars in this fight, but I do have a dog,” Mrs. Summer, 62, said on Monday after the State Supreme Court agreed to take up the case that has put her in the cross hairs of a powerful judge and the lawyers who have been squabbling over the estate of James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, since his death on Christmas Day 2006.

On Friday, advised by her lawyers, Mrs. Summer published the contents of a court-sealed diary written by a woman who last month was recognized as Mr. Brown’s wife. Mrs. Summer did so as part of her continuing coverage of the dispute over the Brown estate, valued at as much as $100 million. She has kept the diary entries posted on her Facebook page despite an order last week from District Court Judge Doyet Early III, who first sealed the document in 2008.


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