December 7, 2006

Won't Get Anna Nicole Smith'd Again

by PG

Actually this case is quite dissimilar from the dispute over the Marshall estate. Rather than a fight between the survivors of a dead oilman, it's a divorce battle between two spouses whose wealth derives from information. However, the money involved -- the husband is a billionaire, undisputed child support for the one minor living with the wife is $354,000 per year -- and the underlying legal problem of conflicting Texas and California courts reminded me of Anna Nicole Smith's Supreme Court case. The civil procedure in the divorce case is more fun, though:

In her legal brief, Suzanne said she was surprised in July 2005 when David lured her out of the family's Gulfstream jet when it landed in Houston for a stopover on the way to Europe. He said he wanted to talk about some serious issues regarding the children; once outside the plane he had her served with divorce papers. Days later she filed her own petition for divorce in California, where she might expect a higher and longer-lasting alimony judgment. ... A uniform statute enacted by all states in the mid-1990s at the insistence of Congress was supposed to prevent such interstate disputes. It places jurisdiction in the state where the divorce was first filed unless another state is the home state of the child.
The wife is represented by the former chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court, in his first appearance before that tribunal since he resigned in September 2004. A great moment in original intent:The opposing attorney cited an official comment by family law specialists who drafted the uniform statute, which comment she claims is considered part of the law, that "encourages courts in competing states to cooperate and even defer to the other, depending on circumstances."

Speaking of Smith, with a new crop of law students freshly certified as ethical, can anyone tell me why Howard K. Stern, Smith's attorney and allegedly her baby's daddy, hasn't been brought before his state bar for violating one of the easiest-to-remember rules for the MPRE?

December 7, 2006 5:47 PM | TrackBack

I haven't handled a divorce case for a long time and had handled only a few in an over 50 year career (thankfully). But I sense that perhaps fraud or its equivalent may have been involved on the part of the husband in his arrangement for service on his wife in Texas under the circumstances described. And possibly the husband's attorney may have some ethical concerns if the attorney "conspired" with the husband in making the arrangements. (A conspiracy may include doing something legal in an illegal manner.)

Posted by: Shag from Brookline at December 9, 2006 6:53 AM

Every time I see this over-reported story I wonder why no one has focused on one real issue contained in it -- the overt violation of the RPC!

Posted by: MMF at December 10, 2006 2:12 PM
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