An article in the May 2005 issue of The Atlantic
By way of background for interested readers, here is a fuller account of the case. In March of 2001, after six months of trial and testimony from forty witnesses, a jury in the Texas Probate Court found that there was no evidence to support the existence of any oral promise by J. Howard Marshall II to provide Anna Nicole Smith with any money from his estate after his death. With the exception of Ms. Smith (who was threatened with perjury charges for lying under oath), no witness has come forward in any court to support her claim. The jury also found that there was no wrongdoing of any kind on the part of E. Pierce Marshall or any other person connected with the Marshall estate with respect to that estate or to Anna Nicole Smith. It dismissed accusations of "attempting to seize control of assets," of "undue influence," and of "document destruction." It should be noted that J. Howard Marshall II had made no reference to Ms. Smith of any kind in any of his wills, trusts, or other estate-planning documents. These documents have been upheld as valid and binding on all parties by both the Texas Probate jury and the United States courts. The Harris County Probate Court is the only court ever to conduct a trial on the issues. The decision and commentary by the judge cited in Mr. Mann's article, which followed the Texas jury verdict by a year, were made by that judge not in the context of a jury trial but on a rehearing from a decision issued by a bankruptcy court in California. That judge's ruling and the bankruptcy-court decision were made moot when they were stayed and then overturned by the U.S. Appellate Court for the Ninth Circuit in December of 2004.