ATLANTA – Former President Jimmy Carter may have brokered peace between Israel and Egypt, but it appears he is falling short of bringing peace to the embattled children of Martin Luther King Jr.
Since October, Carter has served as mediator in the King siblings' ugly court battle over the ownership of their father's Nobel Peace Prize and the Bible he carried through the civil rights movement.
This week, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney made clear the mediation has gone on long enough. He will begin ruling on the pending motions that he had put aside during the long attempt to settle the case.
The matter could come to trial as early as Aug. 15.
King's two sons, Dexter Scott King and Martin Luther King III, who control the King estate, had asked a court to order their sister to surrender the two items in early 2014. They have cited a 1995 agreement that they say gave the estate ownership of all their father's property. The brothers want to sell the items.
Bernice King has opposed any sale, arguing that the two artifacts are "sacred" and should remain in the family.
McBurney ordered the warring siblings into mediation more than a year ago, in May 2015. He set a deadline of Sept. 20, 2015, to reach a resolution.
Back then, attorneys for both sides said they were close to an agreement but needed a mediator to resolve the bitter battle over King's 23-karat gold Nobel Prize medal. King received the medal in 1964 after helping lead the bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala., and becoming a national civil rights leader. King's family Bible was used by President Obama when he was sworn into office for his second term.
The two historic artifacts could fetch millions of dollars.
When Carter signed on to mediate about eight months ago, he stepped into a deep and bitter family divide. Despite their father's legendary zeal for peace and his ability to bring together disparate forces, the three children have repeatedly clashed, including a handful of lawsuits over the past decade.
For example, on Aug. 28, 2013, on the 50th anniversary of their father's "I Have A Dream" speech, the brothers filed a lawsuit in Fulton County Superior Court calling for Bernice King to be placed on administrative leave as CEO of the King Center. The brothers also asked for several items in her possession to be turned over to the estate. That suit was dismissed.
Carter had cut back on his activities last year due to cancer, but in December he said he was free of cancer.