Friday, June 24, 2011
When Anna Nicole Smith sued in a Texas probate court to retrieve money from her late husband, she also filed for bankruptcy in California. Pierce Marshall, the son of Smith’s late husband, filed a claim with the bankruptcy court for defamation. California federal courts have clashed with Texas probate courts since 1999 over which courts have the authority to resolve these disputes.
In Stern v. Marshall, No. 10-179, the Supreme Court ruled against Smith’s estate in a 5-4 decision. The Court held that the Texas probate court had the authority to resolve the case. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “The [federal] bankruptcy court below lacked the constitutional authority to enter final judgment on a state law counterclaim that is not resolved in the process of ruling on a creditor’s proof of claim.”
See David G. Savage, Anna Nicole Smith heirs are losers in Supreme Court, Washington Bureau, Jun. 23, 2011.