My previous post regarding Stern v. Marshall closed with the phrase: May justice prevail. Today, sixteen years after this circus began for the Marshall family, it finally did.
After nearly two decades, mounting legal fees and two trips to the land’s highest court, a long-awaited decision in Stern v. Marshall finally arrived. In a 5-4 decision the Supreme Court ruled against the estate of the late Anna Nicole Smith and delivered a clear victory for the Marshall estate.
The high court ruled that a California bankruptcy court’s decision that awarded the now-deceased Playmate centerfold $475 million (later reduced to $88 million) from the estate of businessman J. Howard Marshall II was decided incorrectly.
The 26-year old Smith and the 89-year old Marshall were wed in 1994. Marshall died the next year.
Marshall left his estate to his now deceased son, E. Pierce Marshall, specifically and intentionally electing not to include Smith. A California bankruptcy court then awarded Smith part of the estate. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, however, ruled that a bankruptcy court could not enter a final decision on an issue outside of bankruptcy law. Today, the high court agreed.
The Supreme Court’s decision should put an end to other pending litigation that Howard K. Stern, executor of Smith’s estate, and Larry Birkhead are pursuing against the Marshall’s in their efforts to exploit the legal system for personal gain.
Despite the twists and turns for the Marshall family, J. Howard and E. Pierce Marshall can finally rest in peace. At long last, Lady Justice has prevailed.