Eliza Presley's paternity lawsuit, seeking a judicial determination that Vernon Elvis Presley is her biological father, has been dismissed from Chancery Court. The lawsuit, which The Probate Lawyer Blog has covered at length, was based in part on DNA evidence that Elvis Presley is still alive and is Eliza's half-brother.
I interviewed Eliza Presley and she is very upset about this turn of events. According to her attorney, Kathleen Caldwell, the lawsuit was dismissed because, after it was filed in August of 2009, the jurisdiction of the Chancery Court in Memphis was legally changed (as of August 2010). The change means that paternity actions involving unmarried parents could no longer be heard in that court.
This is not the first jurisdictional hurdle her case has faced. Eliza first filed suit in probate court, but she had to withdraw that case in January, 2009 due to similar jurisdictional grounds.
This recent dismissal was not based on the legal grounds raised in the motion to dismiss that had been filed against her. [You can read the Amendment to the Motion to Dismiss filed against her here, and read the Response filed by Eliza's attorney].
The Court did not make a ruling on those grounds, or on the question of whether the defense had been properly submitted (based on whether the attorney who filed it really represented Lisa Marie Presley-Lockwood or not). The Court also did not address the merits or validity of Eliza's DNA or other evidence. So Eliza Presley did not "lose" her case; rather the Court declined to hear it.
As such, Eliza does have the option of refiling the paternity claim in another court (Juvenile Court, specifically), or attempt to appeal the ruling through the appellate court system. Unfortunately, the long legal struggle and numerous legal hurdles Eliza and her lawyer have had to face have taken their toil on Eliza. While she has always been a very determined person, she informed me that she is unable to continue with either legal option, for financial reasons. This ordeal cost her a great deal of money and she has no resources to continue.
I have not spoken with Eliza since shortly after the court hearing on January 14th when this happened, and it appears I am not going to. She posted a message on her blog that indicates, consistent with my last conversation with her, this really is the end of the road.
I wish Eliza Presley the best. While what she was trying to do was certainly controversial, I for one did believe her. It's too bad she never got her day in court.
Posted by: Author and probate attorney Andrew W. Mayoras, co-author of Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights! and co-founder and shareholder of The Center for Probate Litigation and The Center for Elder Law in metro-Detroit, Michigan, which concentrate in probate litigation, estate planning, and elder law.Follow us on Google+