Here’s an interesting analysis of the underlying merits of the litigation over J. Howard Marshall’s estate. It contains some bome bad news for Anna Nicole Smith’s infant daughter, Dannielynn.
From a Legal Times piece by Professor Horace Cooper (who narrowly missed being a colleague of Kiwi Camara, and probably isn’t unhappy about that):
[T]here is little chance that this child will inherit millions. Why? Because Anna Nicole Smith’s legal claims on J. Howard Marshall’s estate were always tenuous.
And once the courts act, they will likely extinguish the claim altogether. That means Dannielynn is more likely to be saddled with legal bills and other debt from litigation associated with her mother’s estate than she’s likely to inherit any portion of Marshall’s estate.
We’ll spare you Professor Cooper’s detailed examination of the case, which deploys such fancy-pants legal terms as “de novo” and “res judicata.” We’ll just give you his bottom line:
A separate trial in the Bahamas is going forward to determine who Dannielynn’s biological father is. Once that is answered, will the biological father continue his efforts to secure custody after all the legal claims on the Marshall estate are extinguished?
I predict that once those claims are finally exhausted, even King Solomon himself might not have the wisdom to find a father for this baby.
Are you an in-house counsel concerned about skyrocketing legal fees? Hire TMZ.com to audit the bills you get from outside counsel.
Yes, TMZ — the celebrity gossip website. As they show in their recent dissection of the legal bills submitted by Debra Opri to Larry Birkhead — one of Anna Nicole Smith’s former lovers, who claims to be the father of her daughter Dannielynn — they’re pretty good at finding dubious charges.
Then again, you don’t need to be a forensic accountant to locate the questionable items in Opri’s gargantuan bill:
Larry Birkhead got a Fed Ex on Saturday, and it was not good news. It was a bill for legal services from Debri Opri, the lawyer he fired two weeks ago. The total: $620,492.84.
Opri billed her services out at $475 an hour. Here are some of the charges…
- On February 24, 2007, while Opri and Birkhead stayed at a private residence in Ft. Lauderdale during the Florida hearing, Opri billed $600 for Seafood World. We’re told she brought four trays of lobster to the house. The bill says, “Dinner gift/Ft. Lauderdale house stay.” But it was no gift to Larry. That same day, she billed $211 for items at Publix grocery store.
- Opri billed Birkhead $4,265 for Cingular roaming service while she was in the Bahamas.
- March 8, 2007, Opri billed $161.65 for an Outback Steakhouse dinner. And get this — the bill was for $111.65. Opri left a $50 tip and billed Birkhead, who wasn’t even there!
* Supreme Court says EPA can regulate greenhouse gases. [U.S. Supreme Court (PDF)]
* Fourth Circuit’s reading of PSD regulations did not comport with Clean Air Act’s limits on judicial review of EPA regulations for validity, so Duke Energy’s summary judgment gets reversed. [U.S. Supreme Court (PDF)]
* More interminable Anna Nicole legal news: Howard K. Stern drops his appeal of using DNA to determine paternity, and some kind of a hearing will be held tomorrow. Apparently Bahamian court rules prevent us from knowing the nature of the hearing. [CNN]
* Bong hits 4 glaucoma in New Mexico. [Jurist]
* DNA evidence to the rescue once again. [CNN]
For all of the references in his introductory remarks to being “dignified,” Judge Larry Seidlin was anything but. We’re mortified.
Words don’t do him justice. Just watch this video clip of his ruling in the Anna Nicole Smith matter:
Some highlights (or lowlights, as the case may be):
(1) Judge Seidlin’s theatrical sigh, around the one-minute mark;
(2) the start of the full-blown breakdown, at about two minutes;
(3) the judge’s tear-suffused repetition of “I want her to be buried, I want her to be buried”; and
(4) Judge Seidlin’s wannabe poetic conclusion: “It’s a long order. It’s a long order.”
Judge Larry Seidlin has awarded custody of Anna Nicole Smith’s (rapidly decomposing) body to attorney Richard Milstein, guardian for Smith’s 5-month-old daughter, Dannielynn. From the AP:
Blubbering as he announced his ruling, a judge said Thursday he hopes Anna Nicole Smith will be buried in the Bahamas, but he left the decision up to the guardian of her baby daughter….
The judge choked up frequently and wept as he explained his decision.
Now will someone please give Larry Seidlin his own TV show, so real-life litigants don’t have to put up with him? If breaking down on camera isn’t a recipe for a successful television career, we don’t know what is. Just ask Anderson Cooper. Update: It looks like Anna Nicole Smith will be buried in the Bahamas, next to her son Daniel Smith. From TMZ.com:
After shredding each other for the past four days, Howard K. Stern and Larry Birkhead simultaneously announced, without any seeming anger toward each other, that Anna Nicole Smith will be buried in the Bahamas.
The announcement came just a few minutes after Judge Larry Seidlin decided that Dannielynn’s court-appointed guardian should mediate the dispute.
While we were in line at a coffee shop yesterday, footage from the Anna Nicole Smith case was playing on a television above the counter. The customer in front of us turned around and said: “That judge is CRAZY.”
We agree. Judge Larry Seidlin, of Broward Circuit Court, has to be the most ridiculous judge to preside over celebrity litigation since Judge Lance Ito.
If you haven’t been following the litigation, here’s a good CNN write-up:
Judge Larry Seidlin, with his distinctive Bronx honk, down-to-earth approach and plain language, is as much a part of the show in Broward Circuit Court as the case he is presiding over.
Seidlin is hearing arguments over the status of the earthly remains of recently deceased tabloid fixture Anna Nicole Smith. But arguments over child custody and paternity have made their way into the courtroom.
Some legal observers, and even one of the participants, say Seidlin has allowed the proceedings to become a circus.
E.g., Jeffrey Toobin, of CNN and the New Yorker:
“This may be the most ridiculous legal proceeding I have ever watched,” Toobin said. “This judge is one of the least competent judges I have ever seen. He is letting this thing meander all over creation, mostly because he seems to enjoy being on television.”
Court TV’s Lisa Bloom concurs, observing that it’s all “wearing a little thin.”
But legal affairs reporters aren’t the only ones with low opinions of Judge Seidlin:
According to the Miami Herald, 22 percent of the lawyers responding to the 2004 Broward County Bar poll found Seidlin unqualified.
A blog of the Justice Advocacy Association of Broward concludes that Seidlin is, among other things, a victim of “his inner comedian.”
We’ve all seen judges like this (and we’ve all laughed, with exaggerated loudness, at their jokes). CNN suggests a motive for Judge Seidlin’s hamming it up in the Anna Nicole Smith proceedings:
The judge’s offbeat folksiness combines the directness of a Judge Judy with the touchy-feely common sense of a Dr. Phil. He could be auditioning for his own television show….
“He’s very entertaining, there’s no question about it,” [said Court TV's Lisa Bloom]. “But it’s not about entertainment. At Court TV we keep in mind that these are real people here.”
This is confirmed by TMZ.com, which reports that “Judge Larry Seidlin’s dream is to become a judge on a TV courtroom show” — and notes that his surname “is extremely similar to Judge Judy Sheindlin.”
Here’s a telling fact: Judge Seidlin is a former New York cabbie. You know when you climb in a cab, with a splitting headache, and just want to sit back with your eyes closed — but the cabbie insists on talking your ear off? Judge Seidlin sounds like he was one of THOSE cabbies, back in the day.
Please, Your Honor — spare us. We’re not interested in your thoughts on the war in Iraq (referenced in a lengthy spiel on Wednesday).
Just drive. Thank you.
P.S. Not all taxicab drivers turned judges are so problematic. See, e.g., Thomas Hardiman (W.D. Pa.) — who drove a cab before going to law school. But Hardiman, of course, is a federal rather than state judge. If Anna Nicole Smith Case Is a Circus, Judge Is Ringmaster [CNN] All Rise!!! Judge Seidlin Says He’s Ready for TV [TMZ.com]
* The standard for predatory-bidding claims is the same as that for predatory-pricing claims, and Ross-Simmons didn’t meet it. [U.S. Supreme Court (PDF)]
* A certiorari petition to the U.S. Supreme Court does not toll the 1-year statute of limitations for seeking federal habeas relief from a state-court judgment. [U.S. Supreme Court (PDF)]
* Juries can’t punish defendants for harm done to nonparties. [U.S. Supreme Court (PDF)]
* James Brown to finally be buried. [CNN]
* But the fight for the right to bury Anna Nicole Smith continues. [CNN]
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.
If you are considering a virtual law practice, you know that many of today’s solo firms started that way. But why are established, multi-attorney law firms going virtual?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
Reduces malpractice risk
Enables you to gather the best attorneys to fit the firm, regardless of each person’s geographic location
Leverages mobile devices and cloud technology to enable on-the-spot client and prospect communication
Transitioning in-house is something many (if not most) firm lawyers find themselves considering at some point. For many, it’s the first step in their career that isn’t simply a function of picking the best option available based on a ranking system.
Unknown territory feels high-risk, and can have the effect of steering many of us towards the well-greased channels into large, established companies.
For those who may be open to something more entrepreneurial, there is far less information available. No recruiter is calling every week with offers and details.
In sponsorship with Betterment, ATL and David Lat will moderate a panel about life in-house and we’ll hear from GCs at Birchbox, Gawker Media, Squarespace, Bonobos, and Betterment. Drinks, snacks, networking, and a great time guaranteed. Invite your colleagues, but RSVP fast, as space is limited.