Wisecracking Florida Judge Who Presided Over Anna Nicole Smith Case to Resign

MIAMI (AP) - Larry Seidlin, the wisecracking judge who presided in the dispute over Anna Nicole Smith's remains and was lampooned for his sobbing announcement of the verdict, will resign next month, a court spokesman said Tuesday.

The circuit judge's letter to Gov. Charlie Crist says, "it is now time for me to devote more of my daily life to my own young family and to pursue the many opportunities that have been offered to me outside the judicial system and I have disregarded until now."

Seidlin gave no specifics on his plans after his July 31 resignation, though rumors have swirled for months that he was considering a deal for a television court show.

"He won't say," said Chris Stotz, a spokesman for the 17th Judicial Circuit. "He's not commenting on what his future plans are."

A phone message left for Seidlin at his Fort Lauderdale chambers was not immediately returned.

His resignation letter said his opportunities are varied but "all share in common a further commitment to helping my fellow citizens through roles in the educational system, the media and non-profit organizations."

The former New York cab driver - 56 years old and on the bench nearly 29 years - helped make the hard-fought dispute over the fate of Smith's body a national obsession.

He opened his chambers to television cameras and quickly made clear he was no ordinary judge. On the opening day of the case in February, he declared: "This body belongs to me right now."

Seidlin addressed an endless lineup of attorneys as "my good lawyer," sometimes calling them "California" or "Texas." He divulged the minutiae of his days, from his morning swim to the tuna sandwich he was having when assigned the case.

Proceedings at times became such a cacophonous free-for-all - one attorney once broke into song - that the case was being called a circus, a description Seidlin, in one of his rare serious moments, sternly rejected.

"There's no circus here, my friend," he shot back.

The judge has countless admirers, too, who claim his tearful announcement that Smith would be buried next to her son in the Bahamas gave a glimpse of how much he cares about those who step into his courtroom.