Final arguments in Anna Nicole Smith’s fight for inheritance

By Chelsea J. Carter The Associated Press
Wednesday January 09, 2002

SANTA ANA— The judge overseeing the battle for the estate of ex-Playmate Anna Nicole Smith’s oil tycoon husband urged both sides Tuesday to settle the case out of court, indicating neither will approve of his ruling. 

“It’s going to be an awfully blunt decision,” U.S. District Judge David O. Carter said after lawyers for both sides concluded closing arguments. “I’m concerned over what it may hold for one or both of you.” 

He gave them a day to consider reaching a settlement before he starts writing his opinion, which he doesn’t expect to issue before the end of the month. He also said he may call additional witnesses to clarify testimony during the four-week hearing. 

Smith has fought a lengthy battle in several courtrooms for half of the estate left behind by her late husband, J. Howard Marshall II. Opposing her is one of the oil tycoon’s sons, Pierce Marshall, who says she should get nothing. 

The former Playboy Playmate, whose real name is Vickie Lynn Marshall, met her husband in 1991 when she was working as a stripper. The couple married three years later when she was 26 and he was 89. He died the following year. 

In closing arguments, attorneys for each side hurled allegations of perjury and slander. Both cited missing or altered evidence and accused one another of outright lies in the courtroom. 

Smith’s attorney, Philip Boesch, accused attorneys for Marshall’s son of refusing to turn over evidence, such as legal documents, and altering documents. 

“The biggest lie in this court is that J. Howard Marshall wanted all of his wealth to go to ... Pierce Marshall and not the person he loved most — his wife,” Boesch said. 

Attorney Rusty Hardin fired back, telling Carter that Boesch had painted nothing more than a conspiracy theory. 

“He has accused, according to my count, 10 people of perjury,” he said. “In all due respect, judge, he has slandered a bunch of people.” 

After they were finished, Carter told them case could be “easily resolved” outside of court. 

“I would like to see a settlement in this matter if it can be reached in good faith,” he said. 

That seemed unlikely, given that both sides have twice rejected suggestions that they reach a settlement. Neither side would comment Tuesday after Carter advised them against discussing the case until it has been resolved. 

Whatever ruling he issues, Carter told both sides, he fully expects one or the other, and perhaps even both, will take the matter to another court. 

Pierce Marshall is appealing a previous California court decision awarding Smith more than $400 million of his father’s money. After that ruling was followed with one from a Texas jury that concluded Smith had no right to any money, Carter decided to resolve the matter himself. 

Marshall and Smith sat on opposite sides of the court during Tuesday’s closing arguments. 

At one point, Marshall shook his head in disagreement during Boesch’s characterization of his wealth, which was put at well over $1 billion. 

Smith left the courtroom during Hardin’s closing argument, but returned for the rebuttal portion, limping into court, sitting down and using an inhaler. She didn’t say what was ailing her. 

Boesch told the judge the evidence proved there was a reasonable expectation on Smith’s behalf she would receive a portion of her late husband’s estate. She had testified earlier that he promised her half. 

“Does this court really believe that a man purported to be the richest man in Texas” would have left no provisions for his wife, he said. 

Hardin argued that was exactly what the elder Marshall meant to do. He said an audio tape made by Smith in 1995 was further proof. 

“No where on that tape does it say I want her to have half of everything I own,” he said.