Judge refuses to give up Smith paternity case
EmptyA California judge on Tuesday declined to relinquish control over the paternity case involving Anna Nicole Smith's baby but suggested there were still questions that must be resolved about which state has jurisdiction in the matter.
Superior Court Judge Robert A Schnider made the comments during a brief closed hearing that was not attended by the two men contesting paternity in the case, a lawyer said after the proceedings.
The judge did not elaborate further on that issue, said James Neavitt, a lawyer for Howard K. Stern, whose name appears on the birth certificate of Smith's infant daughter, Dannielynn.
Attorney Debra Opri, who represents Larry Birkhead, the man who filed the paternity claim, asked the judge during a conference call to take emergency jurisdiction of the baby and bring her to California, Neavitt said.
The judge denied that request.
"He questioned whether he has jurisdiction," Neavitt said.
During a separate hearing in Florida, Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin suggested he needed to know who the father was to help determine who can decide where Smith will be buried.
But after a brief private conference with all sides, he changed his mind.
"It would help the court if I knew who the natural father is to speak on behalf of Dannielynn," Seidlin said. "Right now, the moment's not right."
In Los Angeles, Neavitt said Judge Schnider did not change his previous order for DNA testing of the infant and Smith's body as part of the paternity suit.
Neavitt, whose client has possession of the baby in the Bahamas, told reporters, "We don't believe the court has jurisdiction to have the baby tested."
Taking jurisdiction in California would require the judge to overturn the "home state rule," which prohibits a state court from taking jurisdiction over a child born in another state.
Still, Neavitt conceded the DNA testing has to take place.
"But the question is, how do you enforce it," he said.
Dannielynn was born in the Bahamas and lives there with Stern.
Neavitt said the next step should be for Birkhead to file his paternity claim in the island nation.
Stern "wants it to be determined in the Bahamas. He is the presumed father right now. The child has never been to California," Neavitt said.
Judge Schnider originally asserted jurisdiction in the paternity suit in California because Smith had connections in Los Angeles and Birkhead claimed the baby was conceived in California.
Neavitt also said the judge dismissed a pending contempt claim Tuesday against Stern by Birkhead that involved a technical question of whether Stern told the truth about the service of court documents.
Smith died of still unknown causes on Feb. 8 in a Florida hotel room at 39.
Last week, Schnider withdrew his request for Smith's body to be preserved in Florida after authorities there said they had gathered her DNA for testing to prevent a baby switch.
Besides Birkhead, Frederic von Anhalt, the husband of actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, has filed a separate paternity challenge.