Reconsider Clancy case ruling, lower court told

August 27, 2008|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,brent.jones@baltsun.com

The state's highest court ordered a lower court yesterday to reconsider its decision in a judgment that allowed the former wife of Tom Clancy to control a series of books marketed under the Baltimore-born author's name.

In 2005, a Calvert County Circuit Court judge gave Wanda T. King, formerly Wanda Clancy, control of a series of a dozen books called Tom Clancy's Op-Center. The books, which revolve around a fictional U.S. anti-terrorist agency, were written in Clancy's style but penned by others.

That ruling, which also removed Clancy as managing partner of the corporate entity that marketed the books, was upheld by the Court of Special Appeals in September.

Yesterday, the Court of Appeals essentially instructed the Calvert County court to review whether Clancy acted in bad faith when he attempted to remove his name from the Op-Center novels in 2001, two years after the couple's divorce was finalized. The court heard oral arguments on the case in May.

"Obviously, it would have been nice if the matter were concluded, but there is a lot more to the case," said Sheila K. Sachs, a lawyer with Gordon, Feinblatt, the firm that represents King.

Clancy's lawyer, Lowell R. Bowen of Miles and Stockbridge, refused to comment, saying the case is pending.

At the Calvert County trial three years ago, Clancy said that he wanted to take his name off the Op-Center novels for business reasons, claiming recent books in the series were not making money and were hurting his literary reputation.

But a former Clancy collaborator and a partner in the venture that controls Op-Center testified that bitterness toward King drove the author's decision. The writer became disenchanted with the series after King was awarded an equal share of the Jack Ryan Limited Partnership as part of the couple's divorce settlement, according to testimony at the trial.

The company that controls his books is named after Jack Ryan, a heroic American intelligence officer in Clancy's novels.

The Op-Center franchise, under the Jack Ryan Partnership umbrella, had been a moneymaker for Clancy and his associates during the 1990s - earning an estimated profit of $25 million, according to court papers.

Clancy is the author of Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, The Hunt for Red October and other best-sellers.

He married Wanda Thomas in 1969 after he graduated from Loyola College in Baltimore. The couple had four children and remained married until Clancy filed for divorce in 1997.

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