Simon widow's attorneys want judge to step down

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Attorneys for Bren Simon turned their ire toward a Hamilton County judge on Tuesday, asking him to recuse himself from a legal battle over real estate magnate Melvin Simon's $2 billion estate.

They took issue with Judge William J. Hughes' choice of personal counsel to represent him in front of a state judicial commission. The judge hired two attorneys with Bingham McHale after he was arrested for driving while intoxicated in North Carolina in October.

Other attorneys at the Indianapolis-based firm represent Simon Property Group Inc. in the contentious estate dispute.

Hughes said in open court Tuesday that he jettisoned the Bingham McHale attorneys—Kevin McGoff and James Bell—on Nov. 22, three days after Bren's attorneys objected and asked for a stay in the case.

Hughes said he has "no bias" for any party or attorney in the case.

Attorneys for Bren, Melvin's widow, were not convinced.

"I am seeking fair and impartial judgment on behalf of my client," attorney Michael Ciresi said in a terse exchange with the judge.

Hughes, who was vacationing when he was arrested Oct. 27, said he was not under the influence when he amended an order in the Simon case earlier that same day.

In court on Tuesday, Hughes turned down a request to put off hearings on several procedural matters, but the judge said he would not immediately rule on the items under discussion.

Melvin’s daughter Deborah Simon is challenging the will in court, saying her father was coerced into approving a new estate plan that dramatically increased the amount of his fortune going to Bren. She also wants her stepmother removed as trustee of the estate while the broader case is pending.

Simon Property Group, meanwhile, joined the dispute to determine whether it must honor Bren Simon’s request to convert $500 million of her late husband's ownership stake in the publicly traded company into common shares or cash.

Hughes said he will cooperate if Bren's attorneys follow legal protocol in appealing to a higher court to have him removed from the case. But he refused to allow verbal arguments on the issue in open court.

"I'm not turning this into a circus for anyone's benefit" said Hughes, a 22-year veteran of the bench.

His initial court hearing in the DWI case is scheduled for January.


  • Who benefits from this?
    The estate is being peed away by the Simons. All of them. Laywers are the beneficiaries, of course. All that money, and a big chunk of it going to lawyers. Pitiful.
  • jack daniels
    Maybe you have been drinking to much of your namesake. The guy didn't beat him up...he TRIED TO KILL HIM. This wasn't a street fight. The guy laid in wait and attempted to murder him. You have now clue.
  • What's Wrong?
    Is 40 years too much for attempted murder? What would be an appropriate prison sentence for an individual convicted of trying to kill an elected official? I don't understand your argument against the judge here ...
  • fyi
  • Greed to the max...
    I can understand why they wont just split it 4 ways and everyone gets 500 million. This is what greed does to wealthy families - splits them apart. I know because it happened to me. This is a prime example of why you don't make a family member the executor. It will tear a family apart EVERY TIME.
  • toast to hughes
    isn't this the same judge that gave a guy 40 years for beating up delaney? if so, this judge is what is wrong with the judicial system, and is a major reason why a lot of people don't trust it. maybe he was wasted when he handed down the 40 year sentence. here's to you, judge hughes! it's 1:40 PM, have yourself another!
    • Who benefits from this?
      We're watching a multi-billion dollar estate being peed away by attorneys. By the time this is done, it'll be worth several hundred million and the attorneys will have the remaining billions.

      Personally, I would have walked away with several hundred dollar and let the others walk away with the $xB

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