With this notice, the Probate Court action is over and the clock (finally) starts ticking on our appeal.
We have not seen anything in writing, but have heard that Judge Sahagian in the Probate Court allowed the Feoffees motion to modify the settlement agreement to allow the sale to proceed before the New Feoffees take control of the Trust. This after the other party to the settlement agreement (the School Committee) had voted to oppose the modification by a 6-1 vote and the judge had openly wondered on what procedural grounds she should even be hearing the motion. There need be no further evidence as to the lengths the Feoffees, Probate Court and Attorney General will go to protect their carefully crafted breaking of William Paine’s will.
This, of course, is why we filed for a stay of the judgment in the first place, so there is nothing particularly surprising in any of this. The stay was denied well before the Town Meeting vote to support the interveners, so while the Feoffees and many cottage owners will again portray this as some kind of watershed event, the fact is that it is nothing more than we have planned for all along. If everyone involved in this transaction is willing to accept the risk that the Supreme Judicial Court may nullify the transaction, that is certainly their choice to make. It will have little bearing on our resolve to get a court of law to make a ruling on the legality of the sale.
There was a hearing today on this motion by the Feoffees. In the hearing, we discovered that there were some changes to the plan (as outlined in Exhibit A) right up to the last minute for which we do not have details. Some of these were intended to address the concerns of the newly chosen lawyer for the New Feoffees.
Attorney Sheehan went first for the Feoffees and stated their opinion that this plan was allowable within the terms of the Agreement for Judgment and that a major reason they were coming before the court at all was for “transparency”.
Judge Sahagian wondered aloud how to treat this motion from a procedural perspective since she thought that the case was over and she had already signed the Agreement for Judgment.
Attorney Perry then spoke for the School Committee who had voted 6-1 the night before the hearing to oppose the motion. His main point seemed to be that the order of events laid out in the Agreement for Judgment (whereby the New Feoffees would take control and handle all the unit closings) was significant to the School Committee who did “not trust the Feoffees”.
A ruling was promised quickly, likely by week end.
The Feoffees of the Grammar School filed the attached motion in Essex Probate Court on June 26, 2012 and it is currently scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday, July 3 at 2 p.m. The Agreement for Judgment approved by the Ipswich School Committee and Attorney General (and now being appealed by citizen interveners) provides that the existing Feoffees would be replaced by a new publicly-appointed board of Feoffees upon the filing of a master deed that converts Little Neck to a condominium. After the master deed is recorded the New Feoffees would then be responsible for managing condo unit sales, mortgage financing and leases with existing cottage owners at Little Neck in accordance with the settlement.
The settlement terms approved by the probate court require the New Feoffees to schedule and conduct individual condo unit closings “in a diligent and expeditious manner” once the master deed is recorded. The proposed motion would authorize condo sales to take place “immediately” after recording of the master deed, even though a transfer of control from the old to the new Feoffees would still seem to be required between these two events. It is not yet clear how this legal maneuver would affect the role of the New Feoffees, who have been actively preparing to assume their responsibilities under the existing settlement agreement and have already shown a strong interest in fulfilling their fiduciary duty to protect the integrity of the Little Neck trust and maximize its value to the Ipswich schools.
We have verbal confirmation that the School Committee’s motion to compel the filing of the master deed (which would have also allowed the “New Feoffees” to assume power) was denied by the court. This post will be updated if and when more details become available.
Here the interveners appeal from the earlier approval in Probate Court of the Feoffee’s motion to strike a portion of our appeal.
Here, the Probate Court allows the earlier motion to strike the interveners appeal of the judgment filed by the Feoffees which ended up getting heard on May 11th. There is nothing particularly surprising about this, given that this was the same judge that assented to the judgment and denied the intervener’s motion to intervene. Even the judge herself, in the hearing, seemed to question the point of this motion since it would just be made part of the intervener’s main appeal and, in fact, already has as can be seen here.