US Supreme Court at last established the claim of the heirs of billionaire J. Howard Marshall, the late husband of Anna Nicole Smith (November 28, 1967 – February 8, 2007). Justices lead by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. say a Texas probate court had the authority only to resolve the Marshall estate dispute. This declaration came as California bankruptcy judge incorrectly granted Anna Nicole Smith over $400 million from the estate of her oil magnate husband J Howard Marshall. In the 5-4 decision by the judges is the victory for the Texas heirs of Smith's late billionaire husband, J. Howard Marshall. The original heir his son, Pierce Marshall, who filed the case, also died during the 15 years of the course of the litigation.
Anna Nicole Smith, the former Playboy Playmate, married the billionaire Marshall in 1994 when she was 26 and he was 89. Marshall died in 1995 and by a will left his entire estate to his son Pierce and nothing for his wife Nicole Smith. Smith sued in response, but a Texas probate court granted the entire estate to Pierce Marshall despite claims by Smith that he had conspired to withhold funds promised to her by his father. Smith then made a similar claim against Pierce Marshall when she filed for bankruptcy in a California court. This time Smith won, and the bankruptcy court awarded her over $400 million. This decision sparked years of litigation over whether the determination by the Texas probate court or the California bankruptcy court prevailed. Smith died in 2007 from what was determined to be an accidental overdose, but her estate continued the legal fight to keep her portion of the estate. "We conclude that, although the [California] Bankruptcy Court had the statutory authority to enter judgment on [Smith's] counterclaim, it lacked the constitutional authority to do so," Chief justice John Roberts wrote. Roberts began his opinion with a paragraph-long quotation and alluded from Charles Dickens' "Bleak House" to highlight the fact that none of the original parties to the lawsuit lived to see its result.