A district judge Friday ordered opposing parties in the Mariam Oscar estate case to go through mediation in an attempt to settle increasingly rancorous disputes surrounding what has and what will happen to the deceased Calvert woman's money and assets.
The civil lawsuit surrounding Oscar's estate has been in litigation since 2011, when attorney Ty Clevenger filed a lawsuit on behalf of a distant relative of Oscar's against former Robertson County District Attorney John Paschall, whom Oscar named executor of her estate in 1992.
Clevenger, who now represents the Calvert Historical Association as the plaintiff in the suit, has alleged that Paschall abused his role as executor and stole money, a claim that Paschall's attorney, Rusty Russ, has repeatedly dismissed.
Senior District Judge H.D. Black Jr. made the mediation ruling after hearing arguments from Clevenger and Russ surrounding several motions the judge said he would not make rulings on until the opposing sides met with a mediator.
The decision also comes after a hearing in early January when things nearly became physical between Russ and Clevenger before the lawyers were called to the bench by Black, who then gently talked them out of a fist fight.
Oscar, who died in 2004, had named Paschall the executor of her will and had given him her power of attorney. At the time of her death her property and assets were believed to have been worth about $300,000, according to the lawsuit filed against Paschall.
This week, Paschall turned over $86,000 in cash, what he's said is left of Oscar's estate, to the Robertson County District Clerk's office. The money will remain there until a receiver is named, which won't happen until mediation is completed.
During the Friday hearing, Clevenger once again questioned the whereabouts of Oscar's remaining money.
In an effort to prove that Paschall had been dishonest in dealing with the money, Clevenger called on Virginia Jackson, a Calvert woman who said she'd met with Paschall in 2005 to purchase mineral rights from Oscar's estate.
When she wrote the check, Paschall asked Jackson to write "legal fees" in the memo and charged her $2,500.
However, Jackson said she'd never hired Paschall for legal services.
Additionally, Clevenger pointed out that while the mineral rights transaction was included in the accounting sheet for the Oscar estate Paschall filed in November, the amount on the document was $2,000 while the sale was for $2,500.
Jackson said she hadn't seen the check since she wrote it, but that she'd be willing to retrieve a copy.
Clevenger also presented a series of checks from the "Marium Oscar John Paschall, Power of Attorney" bank account that Paschall had written to and endorsed himself.
According to the bank account records, Paschall wrote 16 checks totaling $19,700 to himself between January 2005 and September 2007.
The memo line in most of the checks to Paschall indicates the money was for legal fees, though Paschall did not list any payments to himself for legal services in the accounting sheet, according to court documents.
Additionally, Clevenger argued, Paschall was not Oscar's attorney.
Clevenger was able to call Paschall to the stand, but Paschall invoked his Fifth Amendment right once he was sworn in and identified himself.
Disagreements also exist over who should be appointed as a third-party receiver of the remaining funds and if the Calvert Historical Association should be the sole benefactor of the money.
The association president, Richard Jackson, testified that a vote had been taken to approve using the funds, if received, to create a memorial for Oscar's mother.
According to Oscar's trust agreement, she wanted any money not spent on her mother's memorial to go to a nonprofit organization in Calvert.
Clevenger said that without knowing the financial details of Oscar's estate, particularly where and how her money was spent after she died, he does not foresee being able to come to a resolution during mediation.
Black said the mediation had to be scheduled within 30 days.