LEGAL BRIEFS Anna Nicole Smith may soon be rich enough to afford her own gold-digging suitor. A federal judge awarded her an $89 million judgment in the dispute over the estate of nonagenarian Texas tycoon J. Howard Marshall, whom she married when she was 26 and he was 89, 14 months before his death seven years ago. Judge David Carter, who last year had thrown out a $475 million Los Angeles bankruptcy court judgment in her favor, awarded her $44 million (her half of the investment income Marshall earned during their marriage) plus a like amount in punitive damages against Marshall’s son, E. Pierce Marshall, citing the younger Marshall’s ”willfulness, maliciousness, and fraud” in financial dealings with his father designed to keep him from giving any money to the former Playboy centerfold. Carter also said there was evidence that Smith’s stepson had hired a private eye to spy on the couple and had tried to keep her from visiting the elder Marshall on his deathbed.
”This is really a victory for the love a husband had for his wife,” said Smith’s attorney, ”and the fact that love has no age limits.” Well, sort of. Carter’s ruling wasn’t exactly flattering to Smith. He wrote, ”While she detested being thought of as a gold-digger, her actions leave little doubt that money was the central facet of her relationship with J. Howard. Her appetite for money, once developed, was incessant and outlandish by everyday standards.” Nonetheless, Carter believed Marshall’s feelings for his wife were genuine and that it was his wish that she have a share of his fortune.
Pierce Marshall, to whom Carter awarded the rest of his father’s $780 million estate, said in a statement yesterday, ”While my father would be pleased the court reduced the egregious and flippant $475 million award of the Bankruptcy Court, he would be appalled that the District Court continued to ignore his clearly stated wishes. My father recognized that Anna Nicole would never be a partner or a companion and that she would blow every cent he gave her.” He vowed to appeal the decision….
Not only has rapper C-Murder been indicted for second-degree murder in the shooting death of 16-year-old Steve Thomas, but the victims parents have also filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against him. The suit claims that C-Murder (real name: Corey Miller) shot Thomas during a January rap contest at a club in Harvey, Louisiana, because Thomas’ raps were going over better than his. Miller has not yet responded to the suit, but he pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Wednesday. His lawyer is expected to argue that Miller was elsewhere that night and is a victim of mistaken identity. The murder trial begins April 15….
Ailing Richard Pryor has reclaimed some of his legacy in a settlement with a New Jersey producer who had taken possession of some of the comedian’s master recordings of performances dating back to the late 1960s. Pryor, who is 60 and suffers from multiple sclerosis, had sued Michael Chernow for return of the masters, which Chernow had purchased from the bankrupt LaffRecords label, to which Pryor had licensed the rights. The judge agreed with Pryor’s contention that the rights had reverted to him before Chernow acquired the recordings, but the settlement still required him to reimburse Chernow the $10,000 he had paid for the tapes. Said Chernow on Wednesday, ”The masters were not earning anything for us, and from what I gather, were much more valuable to Mr. Pryor than us.”