Anna Nicole Smith's Endless Litigation

Want Greta's blog delivered directly to your e-mail box? Click here to sign up!

I posted three pictures today... of a hat. Yes, a hat. I received (a surprise) from FOX marketing on Tuesday: a sample of the new "On the Record" baseball hat that is on sale on our Web site. Check out the pics. Brit Hume walked past my office last night as he was leaving, spotted the hat on my desk and said he liked it. He likes the color. I told him I would get him one.

With less than three minutes before the show started last night, it all changed... or at least the first half. I was told via my earpiece in those minutes that producer David Lewkowict, who was on the ground in Durham, had grabbed DA Mike Nifong to do our show. I have no idea what magic David has — the Durham DA has not been talking to anyone! I don't know how David was able to nab him, get him before the camera and notify my senior producer in the New York control room... who then told me.

Of course my senior producer had not planned for this interview. Hence, while I was conducting the Nifong interview (remember, this happened just minutes before the show started) she was scrambling to re-stack our show. She had to figure out how to give Nifong time and the guests we had planned for the first segment, etc. This necessarily meant the first half of the show had to be completely reorganized as we were doing the show.

During the commercial breaks, I had to ask, "What are we doing next?" Since the show was being reorganized while we were on the air, I had no idea about what guest or what topic for the next segment until right before the segment started. Of course, I was prepared to do the interviews before the show — except DA Nifong — so the "heavy lifting" was done by the producer arranging the show as we did the show and not me.

Needless to say, I was thrilled David booked DA Mike Nifong — even though Nifong said he would talk only about the election that day and not the evidence in the rape indictment. I understand the ethical rules about talking about evidence, so I complied and was careful to ask only about the impact of the indictment, but not the actual evidence. While I am immensely curious about the case — and mostly about what the medical exam results were that night — I can wait.

If you have been following the Anna Nicole Smith litigation (now in its 11th year) you know that she won 9-0 in the United States Supreme Court on Monday. Her victory is a narrow one. The Supreme court held, essentially, that the California Federal Court can hear her claim for money from the estate of her very rich dead husband. Previously a Texas court ruled she was entitled to nothing, but a California court disagreed.

Fighting Anna Nicole is her stepson — or Anna Nicole is fighting her stepson. To say this is one ugly lawsuit understates it immensely. Rumors suggest the total amount of money in the estate of J. Howard Marshall is more than a billion dollars. That is a lot of money! So, what we have here is rich people (very rich people) fighting over money for more than 11 years. Yes, more than 11 years! What I don't "get" is why they can't settle this. How much money do they both need: $500 million each? One hundred million to Anna Nicole? There are endless ways to split up this huge pot, which will leave both parties incredibly wealthy.

However, they seem to prefer to fight and their lawyers seem to like doing the fighting with them. My guess is that the lawyers are paid well — very well. I bet the legal fees have been in the millions of dollars.

This case should be settled — it should have been settled years ago. What is the incentive to do the right thing and sit down and settle this? Apparently none. The litigants like to fight and the lawyers are getting paid.

Incidentally, I have nothing against lawyers getting paid and getting paid well. I am a lawyer and I appreciated my clients paying bills. My beef is when it gets way out of hand and has a huge collateral cost for the taxpayers — that is how I describe this case.

Why should you care? It isn't your money... or is it?

It is!

How much do you think it has cost taxpayers to support the court system that has had to deal with this case for 11 years? How much do you think it costs taxpayers to have nine Supreme Court justices (and their clerks) review and decide this case? And court reporters? Clerks in the clerks' offices? Copying? Deputy marshals for security for each courthouse and during each proceeding? The case went before three federal appellate judges in the Ninth Circuit, a trial judge — each of them had clerks, receptionists, etc. The case was also considered by a Texas judge, etc. Plus, throw in the overhead of the buildings, etc. Do you want me to go on? I could. The cost to the taxpayers for this grubby family feud is immense.

What the lawyers should do (and should have done if they have not already tried) is get these two parties into a room and settle the matter. Sure they can't force settlement, but aggressive lawyers can often get a settlement out of the clients to end litigation. Lawyers often can talk sense to warring clients. This is the most ridiculous and costly litigation that I have ever seen. There are serious disputes — including financial ones — that need the attention of our system. This one has had enough attention and it is clogging our system. Yes, this is a frivolous lawsuit.

You often hear about crowded dockets. Well, this dumb case is needlessly crowding a docket or two... or more! Plus, when a judge is hearing a civil case as this is (one over money), he or she is not attending to important criminal cases where there is liberty at stake and perhaps security to the community.

So, Anna Nicole and stepson: Please sit down and hammer out your differences. You have already cost the system — and the American taxpayer — too much needlessly.

Now for some e-mails:

E-mail No. 1

Hi Greta,
I enjoyed your banter with the Marshall lawyer. My explanation for not settling: It’s not in the lawyers' financial best interest!
Winfield, AL

E-mail No. 2

OK — look at him, look at her. Does anyone with even a brain the size of a pea believe she married him for love?
There is no way she, being the trash she appears to be every time she's seen, would have married him if he did not have big bucks and I mean dollars.
I was thinking of asking you the same question the lawyer did: What would you do if it was your father? He may have loved her, but it is laughable to think she loved him. If it was my father, I would fight her in the court till I was penny-less, if I had to. She is a gold digger! She is not the type to love a man without money.
Come on, Greta. You know it.
Pam Burget
Astoria, IL

E-mail No. 3

This may not be a thrilling topic, however, how about interviewing some of the people who rode public transportation to and from work the date of the march (any march in the future) to see how they perceived the protestors? I rode the Chicago BlueLine "EL" to Clark and Lake, a downtown stop, and repeatedly had to duck to avoid getting poked in the face with the top of the flags people were carrying. They were those huge ones, probably not made for marching with. Anyway, I for one would have been interested to see if non-protestors felt intimidated, etc.
Love the show and love your wardrobe. As someone who is always cold, I just love your sweaters (turtlenecks/cowlnecks)!
Have a great day!
Mary Papp

E-mail No. 4

I can't wait to go see the movie you were talking about — "Akeelah and the Bee." What a breath of fresh air if it is as good as everyone says. Our family saw the previews to "Scary Movie 4" and thought it was funny. I took my 13-year-old son (as it is rated PG-13) and I was appalled! Appalled, I tell you. The opening scene with Shaquille and Dr. Phil was the best part of the whole movie. The second scenario was Charlie Sheen in bed with three women and takes an overdose of Viagra, enlarging his privates to huge proportions and he staggers all over the room with this gigantic erection, then he jumps out of a window committing suicide. Who could possibly consider that to be appropriate for a 13 year old? Of course they had to do a take-off on "Brokeback Mountain" and I was truly sickened — I told my son to cover his eyes basically throughout most of the time we were there, hoping that the parts we saw on the previews would come up and I finally gave up and we left. I was absolutely horrified that they rated that movie PG-13! What 13-year-old should be exposed to this kind of smut? The language was also terrible, men calling women derogatory names and cursing. I should have my butt kicked for even thinking it would be ok. I had never seen any of those movies before and it looked funny from the preview. I will certainly be much more careful in the future.
J. Hill
Kingsport, TN

E-mail No. 5

I was so glad to see yesterday over... I am angry at all of these people... very angry. None of them will answer them why they think they are above the law? I liked what one of the radio people said, how did we get the stretch from illegal aliens, to illegal immigrants, to undocumented workers, to the false title of "A Day Without Immigrants"... stupid, stupid, stupid. We've coddled them too long, now we need to round them up, no matter what the cost! And close the borders for good.
Ann Parker
Oklahoma City

E-mail No. 6

Hi Greta,
Please do something about the illegals. They are taking over here in San Antonio. They are using our hospitals and clinics free. They also have a clinic where they can get their prescriptions free. The ones that I know are keeping kids in homes and are not paying any taxes. They send most of their money home. They are living on expired visas and say they are not going home.
One illegal lives next door to my cousin. He is buying him home and is on a medical disability. He is not disabled because he goes to Vegas three times a year and stays a week at a time. He tells my cousin that he can't go back home to Mexico.
I have three children. My daughter is a CPA and one of my sons is an engineer. The other (twins) son lives in Sierra Visa, AZ, and is 20 miles from the Mexican border. He drives a truck for Napa Auto Parts all day and only makes $7.00 an hour. He would like the pay of an illegal roofer or other job that pays more. His company doesn't have medical insurance and when he goes to the hospital he pays, or I do. Why should we pay for all the benefits that the illegals are getting?
Please tell us who we can call or write in Washington. I am a Republican and have always voted, but I will not vote for anyone if nothing is done as it looks like now.
Jean Ratliff
San Antonio, TX

Send your thoughts and comments to:

Watch "On the Record" weeknights at 10 p.m. ET