"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.
Stern: Anna Nicole Smith Not A Drug Addict
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.
Stern: Anna Is My 'Everything'
Looking back, Stern wishes that he'd focused more on Daniel Smith's burgeoning drug problem.
"I think there were things that Daniel had going on in his life that I missed out on…I think that was the crucial moment. I focused too much on work and not enough on what was going on in Daniel's life," Stern said.
Less than two weeks after the death of her son, Stern and Smith exchanged vows in a commitment ceremony.
"To me she was perfect…she was sweet, she was smart she had a good heart. To me she was everything," Stern said.
Months later, Smith would overdose and die.
Stern said that while he has no regrets, he does sometimes wish he could go back in time to save Smith from that fatal overdose.
"Anna meant everything to me and if what you're asking me is if I could go back in time with what I know now, absolutely I would do that," Stern said. "You don't have hindsight…you live life in the present and I did the best I could and I know the doctors did they best they could at the time."
With his legal problems behind him, Stern plans to start working as a lawyer again, this time as a criminal defense lawyer.