The Supreme Court of Alabama canceled a court-ordered investigation by a special master and CPA on Friday into alleged self-dealing among trustees overseeing a scholarship fund for needy children created by former Alabama Secretary of State Mabel Amos.

Montgomery County Circuit Judge Greg Griffin appointed a special master to the case in November. Griffin appointed retired Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Charles Price as special master. He also appointed James White, Sr., a certified public accountant from Birmingham, to examine the trust fund's accounts and records.

Associate Justice Brady Mendheim said in a unanimous opinion released on Friday, “In summary, the circuit court's order referring all matters in these cases to a special master exceeded its discretion.” 

“As to the referral of the matters to be tried without a jury, the circuit court did not indicate that an "exceptional condition" necessitated the referral,” Mendheim said.

Allen Dodd, an appointed Deputy Alabama Attorney General, said in a hearing in Montgomery County Circuit Court in November that the state, the fund's board members and the trust fund's trustee Regions Bank were close to reaching a settlement in the case. The fund's board members are John Bell, Rick Clifton and Alabama Ethics Commission executive director Tom Albritton. 

The Mabel Amos Trust Fund is worth about $8.2 million, mostly due to oil and gas wells being on its property in South Alabama. The fund's purpose is "to fund or to provide scholarships for deserving young men and women of this State [Alabama]…to assist them in attending any educational institution."

Byron Mathews, an attorney representing Tyra Lindsey, a 10th-grade student at Hillcrest High School in Evergreen, and her mother, Denese Rankin, requested Griffin appoint a special master in November. Lindsey hopes to apply for a scholarship from the fund to attend college after high school.

“The Supreme Court felt that the circuit court’s referral to a Special Master was excessive by including all matters arising in the case.  It should be noted that the Court’s Amended Order of Referral that was the subject of the Supreme Court’s decision was a proposed order by the Regions defendants.  The Court left open an avenue for the circuit court to redo the referral to a Special Master, narrowing the scope. Hopefully this time the circuit court will not rely on the work of Regions’ counsel,” Mathews told 1819 News on Friday.

A spokesman for Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall didn’t return a request for comment on Friday.

Decision - Distributed Mabel Amos by Caleb Taylor on Scribd

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email

Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.