The judge that Angelina Jolie wanted to be ousted from her and Brad Pitt’s ongoing legal case has been removed for violating his ‘ethical obligations.’
UPDATE 07/23/21, 3:36pm EST: A spokesperson for Brad Pitt has responded to Angelina Jolie’s court victory. “The appeals court ruling was based on a technical procedural issue, but the facts haven’t changed,” they told HollywoodLife. “There is an extraordinary amount of factual evidence which led the 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 what’s necessary legally based on those detailed findings of what’s best for the children.” HL has reached out Angelina’s team for comment.
ORIGINAL: Score one for Angelina Jolie. After Angie, 46, unsuccessfully tried to get Judge John Ouderkirk disqualified from her custody battle with Brad Pitt, a panel of three appellate judges reversed a previous court’s ruling in an opinion submitted on Friday (July 23). The judges found that Judge Ouderkirk “violated his ethical obligations” and disqualified him – meaning he’s now ineligible from serving as a temporary judge in the case. This is the private judge who granted Brad, 57, more time with their five minor children — Pax, 17, Zahara, 16, Shiloh, 14, and 12-year-old twins Vivienne and Knox — but that ruling is now void after this ruling. (Maddox, 19, is no longer part of the custody case due to being legally an adult.)
The judges, who oversaw the hearing on July 9, determined that Judge Ouderkirk’s “failure to make mandatory disclosures” about other legal proceedings involving Brad’s legal counseling “might cause an objective person, aware of all of the facts” to doubt Judge Ouderkirk’s impartiality. Angie failed to have the judge, who is also overseeing her and Brad’s divorce dispute, removed from the custody case last November. Her lawyers argued that Judge Ouderkirk “denied Ms. Jolie a fair trial, improperly excluding her evidence relevant to the children’s health, safety, and welfare, evidence critical to making her case.” In May HollywoodLife confirmed that the judge had awarded Brad joint custody of their children.
Celebrity divorce lawyer, Raoul Felder spoke to HollywoodLife about the ruling, explaining what it means for the battling exes. “The decision is long and convoluted and goes into general principles of law, but to cut to the chase, the present judge is removed,” the attorney said. “There’s going to be a new judge… He didn’t do anything criminal or accepted money unethically or anything like that. It just simply means he omitted certain things that he should have not omitted and as a result a reasonable person could object to his own objectivity. And that’s what it’s all about, because the law bends over backwards in these cases to make sure everybody’s getting a fair shake.”
“The disturbing part is this is after a lot of litigation so I don’t know how far back this disqualification will effectively be. It may be right to the beginning of the case, the beginning of the custody battle,” Felder added, noting that the July 23 decision “may create chaos…depending upon how far back it goes.”
As for Pitt, Felder said there’s nothing that the actor can really do to appeal the decision. “The final word has been spoken. There’s no higher court as a practical proposition that these people could go to if they’re dissatisfied with this,” he said.