Story by Lucy Valencia, Assignment Desk Editor - email
ATLANTA (AP) -- Basketball hall of famer Michael Jordan asked a Georgia court on Monday to dismiss a paternity suit against him, calling it a "shameless, bad faith attempt to abuse the legal system."
Jordan's lawyer John Mayoue said in a document filed in Fulton County Superior Court that the six-time NBA champion is not the father of Pamela Y. Smith's 16-year-old son. The paternity of the teen was "conclusively established" in divorce filings between Smith and her ex-husband, Jordan's attorney wrote.
Jordan, 50, is the majority owner of the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats. His spokeswoman Estee Portnoy released a statement to The Associated Press.
"Public records show that the paternity of the child was established in a prior case in this same court many years ago and that Michael Jordan is not the father. He also filed a counterclaim seeking sanctions for the false claims made against him. It is unfortunate that well-known figures are the target of these kind of claims. Michael Jordan will vigorously defend himself and his reputation."
In response to Smith's lawsuit, Jordan's lawyer attached a 2003 divorce court filing between Smith and her then-husband Glenville G. Reynolds. The document said the marriage produced one child and listed the boy's birth date and name. At the end of the document, there is a statement signed by Smith saying everything is "true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief."
The filing said Smith will have legal and physical custody of the child and Reynolds can have visitation. Reynolds was expected to pay child support for the child.
A telephone listed for Reynolds was disconnected. Smith's publicist did not immediately have a comment on Jordan's court filing.
Smith's lawsuit requests Jordan take a paternity test, pay child support and share medical, dental and hospital costs not covered by insurance. She also requested the boy's last name be changed to Jordan, and asked a judge to order the Georgia Department of Vital Records to issue him a new birth certificate.
Not much evidence is needed for a judge to compel someone in Georgia to submit to a paternity test, said Randy Kessler, an Atlanta attorney who specializes in family law and is not involved in this case. It's not terribly invasive because it's just a saliva test, he said.
"The judge has to have a good faith belief that there's a good enough reason to do it," Kessler said.
The lawsuit requests that any hearing or trial be conducted in closed court to protect the teen's privacy.
However, Smith's publicist acknowledged the teen posted a video to YouTube on Dec. 25, saying Jordan is his father and that he wants him to play a larger role in his life.
"Pamela had no choice but to support her son and his desire to forge a relationship with his father," Smith's publicist, April Love, said in a statement Friday. "That's why she is now speaking out and prompting Michael to do the right thing."
Love said Smith, 48, and Jordan met in Chicago in the late 1980s.
According to court documents, Smith does not have an attorney. A court date is scheduled for March 12.
Jordan remains one of the most recognized sports figures in the world nearly 10 years after his retirement from the NBA. He was a 14-time NBA all-star and won six championships with the Chicago Bulls and was named the finals MVP six times.
On March 17, 2010, the NBA Board of Governors unanimously approved Jordan's purchase of the Bobcats, making him the first former NBA player ever to become the majority owner of a league franchise.
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