Washington [US], October 28 (ANI): Hollywood actor Brad Pitt's appeal regarding his ongoing custody case with ex Angelina Jolie has been denied by The California Supreme Court.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the court denied a review of a June appeals court decision that said the private judge hearing the case should be disqualified for failing to sufficiently disclose his business relationships with Pitt's attorneys.
The state Supreme Court's decision finalizes that ruling, implying that the fight over the couple's five minor children, which was nearing an end, might just be getting started.
A representative for Pitt told People magazine that the appeals court's previous decision "was based on a technical procedural issue and the Supreme Court's decision not to review that procedural issue does not change the extraordinary amount of factual evidence which led the trial judge, and the many experts who testified, to reach their clear conclusion about what is in the children's best interests."
"We will continue to do everything that's legally necessary based on the detailed findings of the independent experts," the representative continued.
In a statement on Wednesday, Jolie's attorney told People magazine that she has welcomed the decision.
"Ms. Jolie is focused on her family and pleased that her children's wellbeing will not be guided by unethical behavior," her attorney said, adding, "As reinforced by California's appellate courts, our judiciary prioritizes ethics and children's best interests, and won't tolerate judicial misconduct to reward the interests of a party. Ms. Jolie is glad for the family to now move forward cooperatively."
Jolie and Pitt were among Hollywood's most prominent couples for 12 years. A former Los Angeles County Superior Court judge, John Ouderkirk, officiated at their 2014 wedding, and then was hired to oversee their divorce when Jolie filed to dissolve the marriage in 2016. He ruled the couple divorced in 2019, but he separated the child custody issues.
Ouderkirk was disqualified in July for "failure to make mandatory disclosures" about other legal proceedings involving Pitt's legal counseling, which "might cause an objective person, aware of all of the facts" to doubt Ouderkirk's impartiality in the case, the court opinion read.
In Pitt's petition, his attorneys argued that disqualifying Ouderkirk "effectively upended the constitutionally authorized temporary judging system in California" and now "throws open the door to disqualification challenges at any point during a case, even if the party raising the motion has long been on notice about the alleged grounds for disqualification."
"In so doing, the opinion is guaranteed to fuel disqualification gamesmanship and raises serious questions as to whether the temporary judging system is a viable option in California's severely backlogged judicial system," the petition read.
When Ouderkirk was hired in 2016, both sides had listed their business relationships with the judge, and he has been extended twice during their five-year custody battle. At issue, according to the Appellate Court, were additional cases he was later hired to judge, which he didn't disclose to Jolie's attorneys.
However, Pitt's attorneys claim in the petition that Jolie had been "made aware of Judge Ouderkirk's significant professional history with Pitt's counsel from the very start" of the custody case, but waited years to seek his disqualification, as per People magazine.
Jolie and Pitt have six children, 20-year-old Maddox, 17-year-old Pax, 16-year-old Zahara, 15-year-old Shiloh, and 13-year-olds Vivienne and Knox. Only the five minors are subject to custody decisions. (ANI)