Anna Nicole Smith

* Creepy smut producers gone wild. [MSNBC]
* Pacman Jones suspended for the 2008 season, Chris Henry out for eight games. [SI]
* It’s Birkhead! [CNN]
* Duke lacrosse charges likely to be dropped. [CNN]

Anna Nicole Smith 3 Anna Nicole Smith photo photograph pic picture Above the Law Above the Law.JPGHere’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.

And Judge Larry Seidlin is no King Solomon.
Anna Nicole’s Daughter Is No Million-Dollar Baby [Legal Times]

* Coke sues film makers for showing Jesus drinking a Coke and saying, “My God, what a testimonial.” [BLT]
* Dean Ken Starr visits HLS for a reenactment of Dred Scott arguments. [
CNN]
* Howard K. Stern hires Lin Wood in Anna Nicole Smith case. [CNN]
* AG Gonzales avoids e-mail altogether… Should you? [ABA Journal]
* Or just get a secret e-mail server. [Wonkette]

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:

bloomin onion Blooming Onion Outback steakhouse Above the Law blog.jpgLarry 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!

Tipping $50 on a $100 tab, and passing the charge through to your client? Seems inappropriate.
But that Bloomin’ Onion is pretty delish — despite rumors that it’s what really killed Anna Nicole Smith….
Debra Opri Bills Birkhead King’s Ransom [TMZ.com]

* 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]

It becomes fodder for Trusts & Estates courses and casebooks.
Smith Death a Case Study at Law Schools [Associated Press via TaxProf Blog]

Anna Nicole Smith 3 Anna Nicole Smith photo photograph pic picture Above the Law Above the Law.JPG* Southern Poverty Law Center’s getting it done. [CNN]
* NLJ reports that Camp 6 at Gitmo shows little improvement for cleared prisoners. [
Law.com]
* Bobby Brown has to stay downtown (until he throws down about nineteen thou’). [CNN]
* Barry Bonds won’t cooperate in steroids investigation. [Sportsline]
* Anna Nicole Smith’s mom appeals. [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.”

We take back what we said yesterday. Please, television execs, for the love of God: Do NOT give this man his own TV show.
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Anna Nicole Smith (scroll down)

Larry Seidlin 2 Judge Lawrence Seidlin Above the Law Anna Nicole Smith.JPGJudge 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.

The wishes of Stern and Birkhead are relevant because Milstein was directed to make his decision about where to bury Anna Nicole Smith in consultation with the parties to the case.
Judge Gives Smith’s Body to Baby’s Guardian [Associated Press]
Hatchet to Be Buried With Anna? [TMZ.com]

Larry Seidlin Judge Lawrence Seidlin Above the Law Anna Nicole Smith.jpgWhile 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]

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