Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



In February 2007, the world had a ringside seat to a truly macabre fight. Under the glare of television cameras, Anna Nicole Smith's nearest but not dearest' battled in a Florida probate court over custody of her body. The parties agreed on only one point: "Anna Nicole Smith's appearance was a paramount issue to her." Yet, those same parties denied Anna Nicole after death the beauty she prized during life. Because of their protracted legal wrangling, Anna Nicole went to her grave a decomposed corpse in a closed casket. Anna Nicole Smith's tragic fate is by no means unique. For nearly three months, the body of the self-styled "Godfather of Soul," James Brown, lay refrigerated in a secret location while his children, disputed wife, and executors fought over his final resting place.