More than two years after a lawsuit was filed against former Robertson County District Attorney John Paschall over the estate of a deceased Calvert woman, it appears that what's left of the woman's funds will soon be in the hands of those who will use the money as she intended.
On Tuesday, District Judge H.D. Black made rulings during a heated hearing that attorney Ty Clevenger, who is representing the plaintiffs in the suit against Paschall, said "were major steps in the right direction" for disposition of the estate of Marium J. Oscar, which has been the cause of much friction between Clevenger and Paschall and Paschall's attorney, Bryan "Rusty" Russ Jr.
During the hearing, Paschall was ordered to submit personal bank records to the court for review, a request made by Clevenger, who's said repeatedly that he suspects Paschall abused his role as executor of Oscar's estate, a claim dismissed by Russ.
Progress also was made toward naming a receiver for the $87,000 Paschall said is left of Oscar's estate, and the former district attorney was given 10 days to submit an alternative to Clevenger's recommendation of a CPA based in Austin who would eventually be entrusting the funds to the Calvert Historical Association.
The rulings came amid arguments between Clevenger and Russ that, by the end of the hearing, had evolved into a back-and-forth of personal insults, with Clevenger referring to Russ and Paschall as "untrustworthy," and Russ responding by approaching Clevenger and asking, "Do you want to take this outside?"
The men began to take their confrontation out of the courtroom, but were prevented from doing so by other lawyers who separated them and encouraged them to regain their cool.
"Gentleman," Black said, calling Clevenger and Russ to the bench. "You both have a lot to protect and you don't want to throw that away by getting in some fistfight in the hallway," the judge told them.
Clevenger and Russ apologized to Black for their behavior and were seen shaking hands outside of the courtroom after the hearing ended.
Both said what transpired in the courtroom went beyond the Oscar case and was the result of years of intense contention.
"I'm not real proud of that, but you have to know the history and the history runs deep," Russ said. "Sometimes emotions run high and sometimes we say and do things that we shouldn't do as professionals."
In 1991, Oscar inherited her deceased sister's estate, which included several Calvert buildings and more than 100 acres of property, according to the lawsuit filed against Paschall.
The estate had been appraised at about $300,000.
The following year, Oscar asked Paschall -- whom Russ said had done work for Oscar prior to their 1992 meeting -- to be the executor of her will and named J.C. Woods as the sole trustee of a trust she had established.
But Clevenger said it was not known that Woods was named the trustee, just that Paschall was the executor of Oscar's estate and that her will had been probated about two weeks after her November 2004 death at the age of 95.
Clevenger discovered Woods, who passed away in May 2013, was the trustee in February 2013 when Paschall released a copy of the trust agreement after being ordered to by the trial judge, as well as the 10th Court of Appeals, which ruled against an appeal filed by Paschall arguing he shouldn't have to turn the agreement over.
The agreement not only revealed Paschall was not the trustee, but that Oscar intended for any money she left behind to be spent on a memorial for her mother in a building in Calvert that Paschall sold after Oscar's death.
Oscar's family was among a number of Jewish families who settled in Calvert prior to the Civil War and Oscar was the last remaining Jew in Calvert when she died, according to the Institute of Southern Jewish Life.
Russ said he does not know why the building named in the trust was sold, but that any money Paschall obtained was used to pay off nursing home and other expenses owed by Oscar upon her death.
Paschall could not be reached for comment and did not return a voice message.
Russ said he believes Clevenger does not have the best interests of the Oscar estate in mind and that the lawsuit against Paschall is a personal attack by Clevenger.
"This has been ongoing because every time I get it dismissed he goes and finds someone else to sue Mr. Paschall," Russ said.
In all, there have been four amended petitions filed against Paschall, the last two of which list the Calvert Historical Association as the plaintiff.
Clevenger said the reason for filing the original suit against Paschall was to get access to the trust agreement to determine if the funds had been used as Oscar had desired.
He said he tracked down the plaintiff named in the first petition, Harry Oscar, who didn't know he was related to Miriam Oscar, and represented him for free.
That suit was dismissed on grounds that Harry Oscar did not have standing to sue Paschall.
The second petition, which names Marsha and John Gilbert as the plaintiffs, was filed after the Gilberts were referred to Clevenger by a genealogist, Clevenger said.
"Once we saw the trust agreement, the Gilberts agreed they were not beneficiaries, and they authorized me to seek someone else to get to the bottom of what happened with Ms. Oscar's estate," Clevenger said. "So I got in touch with the historical foundation."
Russ said while it would be preferred that other nonprofit groups besides the historical association were consulted as to how they believed the money should be spent, his client wasn't going to argue against handing the money over to the association if the court so ordered.
Richard Johnson, president of the Calvert Historical Association, said the organization has plans to use the money they receive to create a memorial for Oscar's mother in the old City Hall building.