Ruling Against Anna Nicole Smith's Heirs, Chief Justice Quotes Dickens

Illustration for article titled Ruling Against Anna Nicole Smiths Heirs, Chief Justice Quotes Dickens

The Supreme Court ruled against Anna Nicole Smith, posthumously, in a case that concerned the jurisdictions of the various courts entangled in the dispute over J. Howard Marshall's $1.6 billion estate. Clearly, Chief Justice John Roberts didn't think the lurid backstory was enough, so he turned to literature to open his opinion:

This "suit has, in course of time, become so complicated, that . . . no two . . . lawyers can talk about it for five min­utes, without coming to a total disagreement as to all the premises. Innumerable children have been born into the cause: innumerable young people have married into it;" and, sadly, the original parties "have died out of it." A "long procession of [judges] has come in and gone out" dur­ing that time, and still the suit "drags its weary length before the Court."

He continued, "Those words were not written about this case, see C. Dickens, Bleak House in 1 Works of Charles Dickens 4–5 (1891), but they could have been."

Smith died in 2007, a year after the man who sued her, the son of her deceased husband. A bankruptcy court had sided with her in her claim to Marshall's estate, awarding her $475 million, but Roberts and four other justices said that judge had lacked constitutional authority to do so.


Court Rules Against Anna Nicole Smith's Estate In Battle For Deceased Oil Tycoon's Estate [Chicago Tribune]
Anna Nicole Smith Heirs Are Losers In Supreme Court [LAT]

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Quoting Bleak House in an estate case is lazy. It's like quoting Jane Austen in a romance guidebook.