Elvis jokes were absent from the courtroom this week when a Delaware judge held a Nevada entertainer in contempt for failing to turn over for inspection a collection of unusual memorabilia touched by The King.
Vice Chancellor Leo E. Strine Jr. held Robert G. Gallagher and Betty Franklin in civil contempt of court for violating the court’s March order that Gallagher make the Elvis Presley memorabilia available for inspection for insurance purposes.
Gallagher and Franklin have been sued by California businessman Richard S. Long in the Delaware Court of Chancery over a 2006 deal to show the items in a traveling exhibition.
The court ruled that because Gallagher and Franklin failed to honor the March order they now must turn over the memorabilia and pay some of Long’s legal fees. If they fail to comply, lawyers for Long will take the Delaware contempt order to a Nevada judge to execute it, according to Long’s attorney, David L. Finger of Wilmington.
Gallagher, who performs original rockabilly tunes under the name Bobby Freeman, was not in court today, nor was Franklin. Gallagher and Franklin are representing themselves. Franklin declined to comment on the ruling. Gallagher said today from Nevada, “I will never lay down on this.” Gallagher said the collection is the “greatest find since the Titanic” and he will do whatever it takes to preserve it for America.
“What am I in contempt for? Because I didn’t come in this morning? They’re slickin’ me right now,” Gallagher said. “To stand up for America and what’s right, I don’t care what it cost me and what I got to do. Most people would run over in a corner and hide. I ain’t going to do it,” he said.
The collection is made up of items collected by Presley’s personal physician, Dr. George C. “Dr. Nick” Nichopoulos. It includes such things as a nasal douche used to irrigate Presley’s sinuses before concerts, a laryngeal scope used to examine The King’s “chronic sore throat and tonsils,” a Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum pistol and a prescription bottle dated Aug. 15, 1977, the day before Elvis died. In court filings, Gallagher and Freeman said the memorabilia is in various locations throughout the country for security reasons.
“The refusal to provide access (to the memorabilia) was to subvert the unintentional devaluation of the collection by allowing parties to photograph and/or videotape this rare collection,” Gallagher andFreeman wrote in legal filings. Finger said, “The legal term for their argument ‘is a load of hooey.’”
Gallagher and Freeman asked the court for a continuance of the hearing because of difficulty in hiring counsel. The couple said they consulted with a Wilmington attorney who declined to take the case. By that time it was too late to look for alternate counsel, Gallagher and Freeman said. In a May 2 letter to Strine, Gallagher challenged Strine’s handling of the case. Gallagher said he has “bonafide” financial backers willing to buy out Long for $1.65 million.
“With my financial backers finally coming to my rescue, would it not be in the best interest of all parties that Ms. Franklin and I be represented by Deleware (sic) counsel?” Gallagher wrote in his letter to Strine.
Gallagher in his letter said his financial backers have concerns about Strine’s handling of the case, including expressing “extreme concern that His Honor is not opposed to pushing the legal limits ofthe authority of his Court in deciding this case.”
On the bench, Strine answered the allegations and said his tolerance in the case, including unsolicited letters from Gallagher, was “wearing thin.”
“There’s no excuse for hiding the ball, not showing the memorabilia, evading orders or indicating that he (Gallagher) doesn’t have the right to speak his piece,” Strine said. “There are regular flights to Nevada.”Strine said Gallagher is not the legal owner of the memorabilia. Under a 2006 agreement with Long, the memorabilia is owned by a separate exhibit company.
At issue is whether the 2006 deal struck by Long, Gallagher and Franklin to exhibit the memorabilia is legitimate. Long wants the court to declare that the deal is enforceable. If the parties can’t get along, the Elvis collection should be sold and the proceeds distributed. Gallagher and Franklin want the deal ruled invalid.
Source: Google / Updated: May 12, 2007