by Andrew Dalton | The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES – A California appeals court on Friday disqualified a private judge being used in a divorce case by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, giving Jolie a major victory.
The Second District Court of Appeals agreed with Jolie that Judge John W. Oderkirk did not adequately disclose Pitt’s business relationships with attorneys.
“Judge Ouderkirk’s ethical breach, which is considered with the disclosure of information about his recent professional relationship with Pitt’s lawyer, to an impartial person, aware of all the facts, about the ability of the judge to be impartial.” can cause to entertain doubts. Disqualification is required,” the court ruled.
The decision means the custody battle over the couple’s five minor children, which was about to end, could resume.
The judge already ruled on the divorced couple, but set aside child custody issues.
Like many celebrity couples, Pitt and Jolie opted to appoint their own judge in order to increase their secrecy in the divorce proceedings.
Oderkirk refused to disqualify himself when Jolie asked him in a filing in August. A lower court judge ruled that Jolie’s request for disqualification came too late. Jolie’s lawyers then appealed.
The July 9 oral arguments before the Court of Appeal focused on what ethical rules should apply to private judges who, like Oderkirk, are usually retired superior court judges.
“If you’re going to play a paid private judge you have to play by the rules and the rules are so clear, they need complete transparency,” Jolie’s attorney, Robert Olson, said. “The matters which should have been disclosed were not disclosed.”
The panel questioned whether such an arrangement should be allowed in California, but their ruling applies only to Ouderkirk.
Lawyers for both sides did not immediately comment on the decision.
Jolie, 46, and Pitt, 57, were among Hollywood’s most prominent couples for 12 years. When Jolie filed for divorce in 2016, they had been married for two years. They were declared divorced in April 2019 after their lawyers asked for a ruling that allowed a married couple to declare single, while other issues remained, including finances and child custody.
In May, Jolie and her lawyers criticized Oderkirk for not allowing the couple’s children to testify in the proceedings.
The actress also said that the judges “failed to adequately consider” a section of the California Court Code that states that if a person with a history of domestic violence is given custody it is in the best interest of the child. harmful to. Her filing did not provide details about what she was saying, but her lawyers submitted a document under seal in March that allegedly provides additional information.
The ruling did not specify whether children should be allowed to testify in the case.
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton