The Supreme Court of California has rejected brad pitts Appeal in bitter custody battle with ex-wife Angelina Jolie, upholding a lower court ruling that would force them to relinquish custody of their children and possibly destroy the state’s network of private judges.
The High Court on Wednesday issued its verdict without any explanation: “Petition for Review and Application for Stay is rejected.”
USA Today contacted Pitt’s principal appellate attorney, noted First Amendment attorney Theodore Boutras Jr., and Jolie’s principal appellate attorney, Robert Olson, for comment.
Jolie was in London on Wednesday to attend an event with her five children The premiere of his latest film “Eternal” Which hits theaters on November 5th
to Pitt and Jolie and their long split, which Started in 2016 after just two years of marriage And over the past 10 years together, the appellate court’s ruling, as it stands now, meant that his custody battle over his five minor children, which was nearing the end, would have to begin with a new judge.
The eldest of the former couple, Maddox, is 20 years old. Their other children are Pax, 17, Zahara, 16, Shiloh, 15, and twins Vivienne and Knox, 13.
The verdict means that the High Court will not review A state appeals court gave Jolie a major victory in July’s decision. Disqualifying the private judge the couple hired to handle their divorce and their even more contentious custody dispute over their six children, five of whom are still underage.
Dismissing Pitt’s appeal, the High Court indicated that the issues raised by Pitt’s legal team are not relevant beyond the long-running dispute between the two A-list movie stars over whether they share the same custody of their children. Will share.
Pitt’s legal team has said the actor’s decision not to hear the appeal could determine the future of private judges in California, affecting thousands of legal cases in the state involving non-celebrity divorced couples and their children. , and blocking their continued functioning. The extremist judicial system of the state.
In civil cases, such as divorce or custody cases, that prefer to go behind closed doors, the California judicial system relies on private judges, who are supervised by the courts by litigants, to read briefs, conduct trials, and issue judgments. payment is made.
Established in the California Constitution for decades, the purpose of the private justice system is to provide quicker resolution (and greater privacy) in legal cases involving people who are willing to pay, authoritative state judges, and the court system for criminal cases. And more are available to citizens who have fewer resources.
After the virtual public hearing on July 9 The Second District Appeals Court in Los Angeles agreed with Jolie. That the couple’s personal judge, John Oderkirk, did not sufficiently disclose Pitt’s other business relationships with lawyers in a timely manner, thus raising potential questions about their impartiality.
Pitt’s lawyers argued in their brief that there was Oderkirk’s failure to disclose two links to Pitt’s divorce attorney, Lance Spiegel. “A small and unintentional administrative error” Unrelated to the merits of the custody dispute.
The Court of Appeal disagreed. “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.
Private judges in California are usually retired state court judges, who often have extensive professional relationships with local attorneys, so the issue of full disclosure matters. But during virtual appellate court hearings, some judges bluntly questioned whether California should also have a system of private judges.
Ouderkirk declared Both got divorced in April 2019, but took up the issue of custody as a separate matter and behind closed doors.
The vitriol, which fueled this divorce from the beginning, resumed in the spring of 2021, as Pitt was temporarily awarded joint custody and Jolie’s team. criticized Oderkirk for not allowing the couple’s children to testify in custody proceedings. it was after he filed petition for disqualification of judge From the case due to disclosure issues.
“If you’re going to play a paid private judge you have to play by the rules and the rules are very clear, they need complete transparency,” said Jolie’s appellate counsel, Robert Olsson argued before the Court of Appeals. “The matters which should have been disclosed were not disclosed…. If the rules do not result in them then they are empty.”
Pitt’s legal team has argued that Jolie’s team was aware of the disclosure issues for months but only then took action. Ouderkirk’s provisional joint custody decision.
Boutras denounced Jolie’s tactics as “a stalled tactic” and legal “sportsmanship”, which California courts generally condemn for preventing Oderkirk’s temporary joint custody decision from taking effect. .