Monday, June 17, 2024

Anna Nicole Smith Case May Save Billy Preston’s Legacy


They were each famous but of course didn’t know each other. Nevertheless, dead celebrity Anna Nicole Smith’s legal cases against her late billionaire husband, J. Howard Marshall and Marshall’s late son Pierce, may wind up helping deceased pop star and Fifth Beatle, Billy Preston. Both cases concern bankruptcy filings.

Preston’s estate has been embattled since his 2006 death over whether he intended to file bankruptcy in 2005. His business partner and manager Joyce Moore says he didn’t, that Preston was incapacitated and never even appeared in bankruptcy court or even had credit counseling.

The mandamus notes that the bankruptcy was filed on October 21, 2005. But on October 19th, Preston “embarked on a three day crack cocaine” binge that sent him into a three week hospital stay at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix.

In depositions the lawyer who filed the bankruptcy, Richard Perlman, admitted that he didn’t speak to Preston when he filed the paperwork. The bankruptcy trustee, R. Todd Nielson, then changed the name on the case from William Preston Trust–which, as an entity, couldn’t file for bankruptcy–with just the name William Preston. There are serious accusations that Preston’s name was forged on paperwork.

The resulting legal cases have gotten so out of hand that Bruce Fein, the respected Washington lawyer who represents Moore, has now filed something unique in he US Appeals Court, 9th district–a writ of “mandamus.” He’s asking the court to throw the whole case out, based on a list of mistakes of law made by the court or by the bankruptcy and Judge Theodor Albert.

Fein writes: “The tragi-comedy has featured Kafkaesque and Orwellian bankruptcy scenes that this Court should bring to a close in the name of justice.”

By coincidence, Anna Nicole Smith’s estate got a shattering ruling this week by the Supreme Court. Her long running case against Marshall’s estate ended with her getting nothing. Supreme Court Chief Judge John Roberts led the majority that ruled against her and for the Marshall family. 

Basically Roberts rules that the bankruptcy court exceeded its authority in Anna Nicole’s bankruptcy case, especially as it pertained to a suit filed by Marshall’s son–now also deceased–Pierce Marshall. Fein, who this week is also attempting to have Nielson’s attorneys removed in the Preston case, is said to be enthusiastic that the Supreme Court decision in Anna Nicole’s case can be applied successfully to the Preston case.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

Read more

In Other News