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A Bunny's Tale: The Impact of a Playboy Playmate on Federal Jurisdiction

15 Pages Posted: 9 Jan 2011  

Ralph U. Whitten

Creighton Law School

Date Written: January 5, 2011


In this article, Professor Ralph Whitten tells you everything you always wanted to know (and then some) about Marshall v. Marshall, now pending in the United States Supreme Court. The article discusses the nuances of bankruptcy jurisdiction and the probate exception to federal jurisdiction arising in Anna Nicole Smith’s bankruptcy proceeding. Anna Nicole Smith was a model and celebrity who married oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall in 1994. Almost immediately after her husband died the next year, she and her much older step-son, E. Pierce Marshall, became embroiled in litigation over her right to inherit half of an estate with an estimated value of $1.6 billion dollars. While the Texas probate proceedings were pending, Anna filed bankruptcy in California in 1996 after a default judgment for $83'8000 was entered against her in a suit brought by her former nanny, Marira Antonia Cerrato alleging sexual harassment.

Keywords: federal jurisdiction, bankruptcy jurisdiction, probate exception to federal jurisdiction, core proceeding

Suggested Citation

Whitten, Ralph U., A Bunny's Tale: The Impact of a Playboy Playmate on Federal Jurisdiction (January 5, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Ralph U. Whitten (Contact Author)

Creighton Law School ( email )

2500 California Plaza
Omaha, NE 68178
United States
4022802832 (Phone)

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