Stern v. Marshall back before SCOTUS next month

Anna Nicole Smith estate litigation postponed for two months
December 15, 2010
Beverly Hills Courier

Litigation over the estate of the late Anna Nicole Smith was postponed today for at least another two months, because of two key developments scheduled between now and then.

Attorney Bruce S. Ross, representing estate administrator Howard K. Stern, told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff during a status conference that a hearing will be held Jan. 6 regarding his client’s October criminal conviction on charges he helped supply Smith with painkillers and other drugs before her overdose death.

Less than two weeks later, oral arguments are scheduled before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding a federal appeals court decision that Smith’s estate has no claim on the fortune left by her late oil billionaire husband, J. Howard Marshall, Ross said.

Beckloff scheduled the next estate hearing for Feb. 15.

Outside court, Ross said that if the Supreme Court reverses the March decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, it could mean hundreds of millions of dollars would become part of Smith’s estate.

Ross said Stern was trying to have his two felony convictions dismissed, reduced to misdemeanors or be given a new trial. The federal appeals court decision upheld a 2001 verdict that named E. Pierce Marshall — who has since died — the sole heir of his father’s $1.6 billion estate.

Smith wed her husband in 1994, and later claimed that he had promised her $300 million of his fortune. He died in 1995 at age 90.

When he was alive, Marshall gave Smith money and gifts valued at more than $6 million. The former Playboy Playmate claimed her second husband promised her $300 million even though it was not spelled out in his will.

Smith died of an accidental prescription drug overdose in Florida on Feb. 8, 2007, at the age of 39.

Pierce Marshall died in 2006 at age 67.

Lawyers for Smith’s 4-year-old daughter Dannielynn Birkhead, who was named her sole heir, and E. Pierce Marshall’s widow, Elaine, will be making their case before the high court Jan. 18, Ross said.