At issue for the court is a relatively mundane technical issue: when federal courts may hear claims that are also involved state probate proceedings....Two jurisidiction posts in a row for me. Did you know the topic could be so entrancing?! Or is it just me, doing my usual thing of getting excited about jurisdiction when everyone around me thinks it's mind-numbingly dull?
The appellate ruling that federal courts in California never had jurisdiction, erased a lower court finding that Smith was entitled to compensatory and punitive damages because Marshall's son tried to keep her from receiving money from his father's estate.
The Supreme Court filings included only a hint of the nastiness and sleaze from the family fight. The dispute has involved a "a bizarre set of events," justices were told in a filing by G. Eric Brunstad Jr., a Yale Law School professor who represents Marshall's son.
Smith, whose real name is Vickie Lynn Marshall, had received more than $6 million in gifts from her late husband, but was not included in his will, justices were told.
Brunstad said that Smith began her legal fight for her husband's money even before his death.
Smith's attorney, Kent Richland, told justices that Marshall's son "devotes nearly half his brief to manipulating the record to cast (Vickie) in a bad light." Richland said that J. Howard Marshall intended to provide for his wife throughout her life.
"His efforts failed, however, because -- as both lower courts found -- Pierce suppressed or destroyed the trust instrument and stripped Howard of all his assets before his death," Richland wrote.
UPDATE: I gave "The Daily Show" another chance last night and was quite amused to see Jon Stewart run with the idea that the old Justices took the case because ,like the ancient guy Vickie married, they really liked her.