"It was incredible just because I knew that I was vindicated, Anna was vindicated, who she was as a person was vindicated," Stern said in an exclusive interview with GMA. "I was looking up at the sky and in my mind I was talking to her... it's been a long, tough road."
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Perry declared that Stern never had the intent to defraud when he used his name and others to obtain prescriptions for Smith while keeping her privacy intact.
In life, Smith, the blonde, vivacious model and reality star, always stole the spotlight and Howard K. Stern loved to live in her shadow, by her side in good times and in bad.
"She was my best friend, my lover, the mother of my daughter, everything to me, I mean literally everything, my whole world," Stern said.
They first met in 1995 when Stern joined the then 26-year-old bombshell's legal team. Smith was fighting for $800 million from her 93-year-old deceased husband's estate.
"I'm not a gold digger…. I went out and made something of myself and people don't appreciate that," Smith told ABC News in an interview 10 years ago.
Stern would take Smith's case all the way to the Supreme Court where they won a moral victory, but no money.
Smith's troubles with prescriptions drugs were well known. An appearance at the 2006 American Music Awards showed the one-time Playboy model intoxicated as she announced Kanye West's performance.
In an exclusive interview 10 years ago, Smith told ABC News that she had serious drug problems.
"I was on prescription pain medication and I was taking too much and I went into a coma for that," she said.
Her official cause of death was listed as the combined effects from nine different prescription drugs, including Valium and Atavan.
Stern was often present on Smith's E! reality TV show that documented Smith's sometimes bizarre behavior. His constant presence left many wondering if he was a friend or an enabler.
Stern rebutted accusations that Smith was a drug addict.
"Anna suffered from chronic pain," Stern said. "She didn't take medications for fun or to get high, she took medications so she could deal with daily life."
When Smith gave birth to her daughter, Dannielynn, in the Bahamas in 2006, Stern claimed to be the father. Paternity test results showed that another of Smith's boyfriends, Larry Birkhead, was actually the father.
Stern is still in touch with Birkhead and four-year-old Dannielynn.
"Dannielynn is just beautiful... She's doing very well, she's very happy and Larry is doing a great job as father," Stern said.
The birth of Smith's daughter was tempered by the sudden death of her 20-year-old son, Daniel, from a drug overdose. Smith found him dead in her hospital room just three days after giving birth to her daughter.
Looking back, Stern wishes that he'd focused more on Daniel Smith's burgeoning drug problem.