Friday, December 15, 2006

Money brings Anna Nicole Smith back to the US

A fat wad of cash has managed to do something that a paternity suit, an ex-boyfriend and a very angry lawyer couldn't: get Anna Nicole Smith back in the country.

The formerly zaftig Playboy Playmate left the extradition-exempt comfort of her Bahamian hideout to appear in a San Francisco court Friday morning, lawyer Ron Rale confirmed to E! Online, marking the former reality star's first time back in the U.S. since the birth of her daughter and death of her son in September.

Smith showed up at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to participate in mediation between a judge and the family of J. Howard Marshall II, her late oil tycoon hubby, over her much-disputed share of his $1.6 billion estate.

Legal sidekick turned committed partner Howard K. Stern accompanied Smith to the proceedings, the latest in a contentious, and seemingly never-ending, legal battle—though he may now wish he'd stayed home.

Larry Birkhead, Smith's litigious ex-boyfriend, confirmed to E! Online that Stern was served with legal papers outside the courthouse for allegedly giving perjured statements in connection with Birkhead's paternity suit—yet another contentious and seemingly never-ending legal battle.

As for Smith, her is-she-or-isn't-she-entitled case finally made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court this year, and in May the high court justices reversed a federal appeals court decision, virtually reinstating the $88.5 million Smith was originally awarded back in 2002.

It's unknown what was brokered in Friday's closed-door court tête-à-tête, though it's not the first time Smith's name has been featured on a docket this week.


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