Published May 02, 2006
This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," May 1, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Now to Washington where the United States Supreme Court found itself in a family feud between former playmate Anna Nicole Smith and her stepson. On Monday, the court decided unanimously with Anna Nicole Smith but her 11-year long battle with her late husband's fortune is far from over.
Joining us from Los Angeles is Anna Nicole Smith's lawyer, Kent Richland, welcome Kent and congratulations on a 9-0 win.
KENT RICHLAND, ANNA NICOLE SMITH'S ATTORNEY: Thanks so much, Greta, appreciate it.
VAN SUSTEREN: So, Kent, did you get to make the phone call to your client to tell her the news?
RICHLAND: Yes, we spoke briefly and obviously she was very, very happy.
VAN SUSTEREN: What did she say?
RICHLAND: She just said, "Thank you so much and glad to hear it." You know, it's a little bit anticlimactic because it was pretty clear from the hostile questions that were asked to the other side from almost every justice that there was a very good chance that we were going to win this case.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, to sort of set the stage there was the one court case down in Texas in the probate case, which is where her stepson was hoping the case would be resolved. And she filed a bankruptcy matter in California is that right?
RICHLAND: That's correct.
VAN SUSTEREN: And she won in the trial court in California or the district. Then she lost in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and that's why it ended up in the Supreme Court?
RICHLAND: That's right. The Ninth Circuit ruled on a jurisdictional issue against her, said that the case should never have been in the federal court system.
And the U.S. Supreme Court today 9-0 said absolutely it should have been. In fact, Justice Ginsburg's opinion made it clear that this was a pretty easy case as far as the nine justices were concerned.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, pretty easy case as far as the jurisdictional issue. But now she goes back. Who wins? I mean who gets this money?
RICHLAND: Well, we do still have other issues that have to be heard in the Ninth Circuit and that's what we're going to go back to the Ninth Circuit for. We think that those are some of our strongest issues.
The most difficult one was the Ninth Circuit issue that went up to the U.S. Supreme Court and the fact that nine judges agreed with us on that issue, the toughest issue, we think we have a very, very strong chance on the rest of the issues.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. The stepson Pierce Marshall and Anna Nicole Smith have been battling about this money now for quite some time. It's about $1.6 billion are the estimates, the numbers we hear. It's really hard, Kent I don't mean to put you in an awkward place, but when rich people fight over this much money what the rest of us are thinking is can't they just split it?
RICHLAND: Yes, well you know it's not $1.6 billion that's at issue here. It's a much smaller amount. It's a very small amount of the total estate of J. Howard Marshall. And, you know, I think that reasonable people should be able to get together and decide just to make some kind of a settlement.
But, in this case, I don't think that our opponents are interested in talking about settlement or splitting it. I think it's a much too emotional issue for them. You hear this every time there's a new stage of this case. They're saying "We're going to fight this to the end" and, you know, "It's clear that we're going to win" and "It's going to be a slam dunk the next time around."
Well, they've said that three or four times, including in the U.S. Supreme Court and now nine justices out of nine have disagreed with them. We don't think that the rest of the issues have much more of a chance of succeeding.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I mean I don't have their lawyer here but I mean sort of my view is sort of shame on both parties, not necessarily their lawyers but both parties for not resolving this because we, the taxpayers, are paying for this to go up through the federal court system. The State of Texas taxpayers are paying — well they don't have state income, a state tax, but they're paying for it somehow but somebody is paying for it.
VAN SUSTEREN: We're all paying for this because these two have a grudge against each other over tens or hundreds of millions of dollars and frankly it's sort of amusing. We get to see pictures of Anna Nicole Smith. But, you know, I think we should hang it up.
RICHLAND: The taxpayers pay for it but not only that the plaintiff in this case, Anna Nicole Smith, is the one who has the most to lose and the least to gain by this thing being dragged out the way it has been.
And, it's the defendant who holds on to that money which two courts have found that he has unlawfully taken from her that is causing this thing to go on and on and on. We'd love this to be over quickly and hopefully the Ninth Circuit will agree with that.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well it's interesting because it seems that Justice Ginsburg sort of whacked both of them. She said that Pierce Marshall engaged in forgery, fraud and overreaching to gain control of his father's assets. But she didn't leave your client unscathed. She said that your client had defamed her former stepson, so you both got whacked.
RICHLAND: Well, what happened was that my client was accused of having defamed him but she won that part of the case. And, Pierce Marshall was accused of having forged and defrauded and he lost that part of the case. The judge found that she hadn't defamed him and the judge also found that he had defrauded. So, Justice Ginsburg was simply showing what the claims were but we were successful on all of our claims.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well congratulations, 9-0, that's an impressive win in the United States Supreme Court. You don't win 9-0 often. Kent, thank you.
RICHLAND: Thanks so much, Greta.
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