LOS ANGELES – A hearing in a lawsuit brought by a man who claims he fathered Anna Nicole Smith's baby girl was delayed Wednesday but his lawyer used the court setting to urge the former Playboy playmate to return the baby to California for DNA paternity testing.
"Where's this woman's decency? Where's her fairness?" attorney Debra Opri pleaded outside the courthouse. "Can Anna Nicole Smith not allow Larry Birkhead the peace of mind in resolving the question of whether he is the father?"
"If you are so certain that Larry Birkhead is not the father, then you have nothing, absolutely nothing to lose. ... It is in the best interests of this child," Opri said.
Smith's lawyer and current boyfriend, Howard K. Stern, says he is the father of Dannie Lynn Hope, born by Caesarean section on Sept. 7 in the Bahamas. Smith and Stern have exchanged informal vows and say they plan to officially wed.
But Birkhead, who is Smith's ex-boyfriend, contends he is the father and filed a lawsuit demanding that Smith and the child come to California to establish paternity through DNA tests. If he is confirmed to be the father, he could receive visitation or custody rights and possibly a large amount of child support.
Birkhead, a trim man with blond surfer hair, said nothing Wednesday as his lawyer made her statements.
Superior Court Commissioner Gretchen W. Taylor called attorneys for both sides into her chambers and 30 minutes later they left without discussing anything in open court. Outside court, Opri said the judge continued the hearing to Oct. 26.
Smith, 38, remains in the Bahamas. Three days after Dannie was born, her 20-year-old son, Daniel Smith, died of an accidental lethal combination of methadone and two antidepressants, according to a private autopsy.
Lawyers for Smith and Stern stressed that paternity proceedings are confidential under California law in order to protect the interests of the child.
"We want to honor the dignity of the court, the dignity of Anna Nicole as the mother," Smith attorney Ron Rale said. "She's grieving right now, it's not something that we want before the press."