Midyear Meeting

Anna Nicole Smith Case Results in ABA House Resolution

The ABA House of Delegates has approved a resolution that affirms the power of federal magistrate judges to conduct proceedings in civil matters with the consent of the parties.

A report accompanying Resolution 10B says it is necessary because of the U.S. Supreme Court decision involving Anna Nicole Smith, whose real name was Vickie Lynn Marshall.

The court’s June 2011 decision in Stern v. Marshall held that bankruptcy judges have no constitutional authority under Article III to decide common law tort claims. As a result of the decision, Smith’s estate wasn’t able to collect on a tort judgment won against the son of her late billionaire husband.

Some commentators have suggested the Smith case could call into question the power of magistrate judges.

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