Funeral Home owner hires attorney

The man accused of bilking millions from Forest Hill Cemetery policy holders wanted to sell his home to pay for his defense attorney.

But first a judge had to sign off on Clayton Smart's proposal. Smart has been behind bars in Shelby County since May.

His assets have been frozen but Wednesday, a chancery court judge freed up some funds so Smart can finally afford an attorney.

Clayton Smart sat shackled in Chancery Court while attorneys discussed his finances.

Investigators say even behind bars Smart has been working with his wife to sell some residential property in Oklahoma despite a court injunction that forbids it.

"Also the court told us that he was going to reschedule a hearing against Nancy Smart who is Clayton Smart's wife who is also in contempt and will be back on October the 2nd," says James Newsom.

But the judge ruled Smart can use the $120,000 he made from the sale of the home to retain attorneys Lee Gerald and Mike Shoal.

"The property that was purchased was purchased prior to any alleged criminal activity therefore the money used are not traceable or coming from the trust funds.  The money is clean so to speak," says Gerald.

Policy holders are relieved that Smart's case can finally move forward. "I sure am that's what we're praying about that this thing on the road and get it done get it behind us," says Vaughn Denton.

Smart wasn't asked to testify in court. But after the hearing he sparked a peculiar exchange with the attorney that now represents the funeral home.

"I don't have another lawyer. You all have taken all my money, and I'm broke. I don't have any money, you can have everything I got it doesn't matter," said Smart.

Smart says he knows where all the trust fund money is, but says he doesn't have it.

Clayton Smart's next court appearance in criminal court is September 25th.

He and his wife are due back in civil court on October 2nd.


to email Anna Marie Hartman.