Stern v. Marshall: Whose Money Is It?
January 13, 2011
It is no surprise that Larry Birkhead and Dannielynn are back in the spotlight just a week the Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in Stern v. Marshall. Although the duo moved to Kentucky for a “normal life”, Dannielynn frequently appears in the media. Whether it is the Kentucky Derby, her birthday celebrations, or even just a day at the farmers market, Dannielynn always catches the eyes of the paparazzi. While Dannielynn may be too young to realize now, it appears that she is being used as a public relations tool to keep the estate battle her mother, former Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith, started 16 years ago.
Dannielynn is often portrayed as the million dollar baby but in reality, whose money is this really?
The notoriously over-litigated case – Stern v. Marshall – involves reality TV star Smith and her late husband J. Howard Marshall II. In an effort to get her hands on his estate, Smith sued Marshall’s son Pierce claiming she was entitled to half the Marshall estate. Twelve Texas jurors in a Texas Probate court, the clear court of record,upheld Marshall’s will and ruled that Smith was not entitled to Marshall’s estate. But after years and years of litigation, Smith’s attorneys refuse to concede to the rule of law – continuously appealing any unfavorable ruling.
After realizing the Texas court would likely rule against her, Smith manipulated the legal system by filing an unrelated case in a California bankruptcy court in a legal strategy called forum shopping to find a more favorable court. The fate of the case now rests in the hands of nine Supreme Court Justices, who will determine bankruptcy jurisdiction on matters of core versus non-core arguments. Oral arguments next week give us hope that the legal system will not stand for such misuse.
Janice R. Brenman is a former prosecutor now in private practice with the Los Angeles law firm of Fleming, Greenwald & Associates.She graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of California, Santa Barbara and went to Southwestern University School of Law. For more information visit Ms. Brenman’s website at http://www.janicebrenman.com