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Monday, June 17, 2024 | Back issues
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Anna Nicole’s Mom Loses Bid for Reporter’s Emails

(CN) - Anna Nicole Smith's mother asked for too many discovery documents in her defamation lawsuit against "Entertainment Tonight" correspondent Art Harris, a Texas appeals court ruled.

The late model's mother, Virgie Arthur, sued Harris, TMZ Productions, Harvey Levin, Howard K. Stern, Larry Birkhead and others. Arthur claimed that she was defamed by television and Internet coverage of her attempts to gain custody and visitation rights to her granddaughter, Dannielynn.

Arthur's request for discovery asked for "copies of all communication from September 2006 to present" between Harris and 38 e-mail addresses.

The trial court denied Harris' objection that the request was too burdensome and expensive, but the 1st District Texas Court of Appeals in Houston reversed.

"The record does not contain any evidence sufficient to satisfy the stringent standard for compelling production of Harris' electronic storage devices," Justice Evelyn Keyes wrote.

"The trial court failed to consider whether the benefits of production to Arthur outweighed the burdens of the appointment of Special Master and forensic expert to obtain the information sought when ordering the production of Harris' computer hard drive, external drives, and jump drives to the court-appointed Special Master," she added.

"We conclude that the trial court abused its discretion not only by compelling production of overly broad discovery without addressing Harris's motion for protective order and without a motion to compel discovery from Harris before it, but also by issuing its even more invasive order that Harris produce his hard drives and by failing to require Arthur to make any showing that the benefit of the discovery she sought outweighed the burden and expense to Harris."

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