So much for a united front.
A day after Broward County Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin granted custody of Anna Nicole Smith's body to daughter Dannielynn and her guardian, and a day after ex-lover Larry Birkhead, current companion Howard K. Stern and mother Virgie Arthur jointly proclaimed Smith would be buried in the Bahamas, the parties were all back in court Friday to resume their respective legal feuds.
Despite her apparent accord with Stern and Birkhead following Seidlin's ruling, Arthur formally appealed the decision.
Calling herself Smith's "natural mother and next of kin," Arthur petitioned the court to issue an emergency order blocking the transfer of Smith's remains to the Bahamas. Arthur's motion says she is "entitled to make the decision regarding where her child is to be buried."
Seidlin confirmed he received the motion but declined to say when he would issue a ruling.
Earlier in the day, Birkhead and his legal team and Stern's legal crew (sans Stern) met back up in Broward's family court Friday morning to continue their ongoing paternity battle.
The familiar faces were present for a refreshingly brief hearing in front of Judge Lawrence Korda, a hearing in which Birkhead attorney Debra Opri requested that Korda enforce the California order to obtain and test DNA samples from both Smith and Dannielynn.
Korda, who had a much lower tolerance for tangents than Seidlin before him, didn't waste time hearing arguments from both sides, instead starting off the hearing by questioning his own jurisdiction in the case.
"Who am I to be doing this in the first place?" he asked. "The question is whether Florida has any jurisdiction at all. The Bahamas appears to have substantial jurisdiction."
Korda added that as Dannielynn was "Bahamian-born, Bahamian-residing," he even doubted the jurisdiction that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Schnider had in ordering the DNA tests' enforcement in the first place. And as for the DNA samples removed from Smith's body last week, Korda said there's no immediate rush to test them.
"Those are preserved," he said. "They aren't going anywhere...You were under some time pressures in Judge Seidlin's case due to the decomposition of the body. We're not in any danger of losing these."
While Korda may have lacked the folksy character of his predecessor in the Smith saga, he did share a certain panache for metaphors.
When questioning the jurisdictional issue, Korda said, "You can't climb the staircase until you get to the first step."
That, however, appears to be where his similarities to Seidlin end. When Opri pleaded with the judge not to second-guess Schnider's ruling, Korda said that he's "not as wide open for questioning such as you may be used to."
"I don't need rationale, I need orders. That's how courts work, through orders."
Opri argued that the order was there via a series of earlier rulings in California and Florida. She also said that on Monday, regardless of whether Korda has ruled on enforcing the DNA order or not, her posse will be heading to Nassau to argue for custody.
As it is, Stern and Arthur will begin their custody suit over Dannielynn the same day. Arhur is arguing that she can provide a more stable home for the baby than Stern can. Gag orders prohibit either side from speaking about those proceedings, and both parties missed the opening hearing Thursday, as they were preoccupied in the Florida courtroom.
Which means that Monday is shaping up to be another litigation-heavy day, and this time it's the Bahamas' turn to host the circus: The battle over ownership of Horizons, the home Smith and Stern resided in prior to her death, will kick off with a hearing that day as well.
Stern has already retreated to the island nation with Dannielynn, presumably making arrangements for Smith's funeral and subsequent interment at Lakeview Memorial Gardens & Mausoleums in Nassau, where her son, Daniel, is buried.
In the meantime, Korda said that while he doesn't think he has jurisdiction, he's "not going to shut the door completely." He told the parties that he would confer with Schnider, if necessary, before making a ruling.
Meanwhile, during a Today show appearance Friday morning, Arthur cited the last-minute, telephone testimony of Billy Smith, Daniel's father and Smith's first husband, as her reason for opposing the international burial.
She said that Billy Smith wanted to have his ex and son buried together, but in Texas, and that she would join with him to seek to exhume the 20-year-old's body and bring Smith back to their home state.
Arthur also had some choice words for Seidlin, explaining his antics by claiming that "maybe he wants to be a movie star."
Her attorney, John O'Quinn, also took issue with the judge's off-kilter handling of the proceedings, saying, "This was his moment of glory in the sun. He wanted to do the most bizarre thing he could, which is require a U.S. citizen to be buried in a foreign country."
Elsewhere, Stern received some public support from a couple of people close to him.
Moe Brighthaupt, the bodyguard who unsuccessfully tried to revive Smith before her Feb. 8 death (and, for the record, someone who was once on the payroll of the Stern-Smith household), appeared on Good Morning America Friday claiming that Smith told him that Stern was the father and that she wanted to be buried in the Bahamas.
Stern's sister, Bonnie Stern, also jumped to her brother's defense, saying she was "physically sickened and deeply disturbed by the false innuendos and unfounded accusations" leveled against her brother.
"Howard cared for and loved both Daniel and Anna Nicole with all his heart and soul."
Her defense comes amid reports that Stern appeared to have "flushed [a couple] of prescription drugs down the toilet" shortly after Daniel's Sept. 10 death. The allegation, contained in a witness account to police, first surfaced on people.com.
The witness was Ford Shelley, whose father-in-law, G. Ben Thompson, claims ownership of Horizons and whose testimony in court Thursday was supplemented with footage of a whacked-out, visibly pregnant Smith in clown makeup.
Shelley told police that the day of Daniel's death, he saw Stern return to the Horizons and go through Daniel's clothing. Shelley said that two white tablets fell out of the young man's jeans and that Stern picked them up, "went immediately to the bathroom," and "seconds after, I heard the toilet flush."
Upon returning to the room Shelley was in, he said, Stern told him "that he had taken care of a problem."
The police report also indicated that the drugs methadone and Carisoprodol, a muscle relaxant, were found by nurses in Stern's bed on the morning that Daniel died, per people.com.
Photographs of Daniel also revealed abrasions to his pelvis and hips, though a doctor questioned about the injuries told cops he didn't know what caused them, but that "it was nothing done while trying to resuscitate Daniel."