Naomi Judd's family is rushing to court in an attempt to stop the release of gruesome photographs from the scene of the country star's tragic death.
According to new legal documents obtained by The Blast, the family is suing Dusty Rhoades, the Sheriff of Williamson County, Tennessee, to keep records related to the investigation into her death sealed.
As we reported, the country star took her own life at the age of 76. She is survived by her two daughters, Wynonna Judd and Ashley Judd, and her husband Larry Strickland, to whom she was married for over three decades. Naomi's family is working together to stop the release of any and all material gathered at the death scene.
Naomi Judd's Surviving Spouse & Daughters Sue To Keep Death Investigation Records Sealed
In the court documents, Larry, who is the sole executor of Naomi’s will, filed the legal case in order to keep any and all records related to her death confidential and exempt from disclosure. Specifically, they want to block the release of photographs and video recordings that they claim were taken at the scene. Some of these photos apparently depict Naomi in a “graphic manner.”
As the filing states, Naomi passed away in her residence on April 30, 2022, adding, “Mrs. Judd’s death garnered attention from print, television, internet, and radio media outlets all across the world." They say that the Sheriff’s deputies employed by Rhoades “responded to the residence within minutes of receiving a 911 call.”
The court documents say that officials followed “standard procedure” by conducting an investigation into her death. During the investigation, they say evidence was collected and records were taken, including “photographs, video recordings, audio recordings, and written reports.”
The family is concerned that media outlets “have or have planned to file public records requests” to gain access to these documents and photos.
Ashley Judd Reveals Her Mother Took Her Own Life With A Firearm
In May, her daughter Ashley appeared on “Good Morning America” and spoke with Diane Sawyer about her mother’s tragic passing. "My mother used a firearm, so that's the piece of information that we are very uncomfortable sharing," she said, adding, "But understand we're in a position that if we don't say it, someone else is going to."
Ashley said that she felt compelled to disclose the details surrounding her mother’s death to highlight the importance of mental health and provide fans with resources they might need to find help before it’s too late.
“When you’re talking about mental illness, it’s important to distinguish between the loved one and the disease,” Ashley explained, adding, “My mother knew that she was seen and she was heard in her anguish and she was walked home.”
Naomi Judd's Family Says Their Right To Privacy 'Outweighs Any Need For Public Disclosure'
The court documents go on to say that “Mrs. Judd’s accomplishments and her life were celebrated across the world. The loss felt by her husband and daughters, the Plaintiffs, cannot be understated.”
Her family said in the papers that they will “suffer irreparable harm in the form of emotional distress, pain and mental anguish should these records be released. Moreover, the release of these records would continue to cause the entire family pain for years to come.”
The family insists they have “legitimate privacy rights” as the surviving spouse and daughters of the late country singer and are asking a judge to determine that all “medical records of deceased persons, law enforcement investigative reports, and photographs, video and other images Mrs. Judd obtained shall not be public records and are exempt from disclosure.”
They write that their right to privacy “substantially outweighs any need for public disclosure of these records” and “no legitimate public interest would be served by the release or dissemination of these records to the public.”
In addition, the court documents also note that “this is the first application for extraordinary relief in this cause” and warn that “if the information is released, it cannot be un-released. There is no way to ‘claw back’ the information once it has been disseminated. The damage will be done, and there will be no remedy if it is released improvidently.”
Naomi Judd Left Larry Strickland As Sole Executor Of Her Will
Lately, Naomi Judd's name has been making headlines because her daughter's names were omitted from her will. Some have interpreted it to mean that they have been cut out of her reported $25 million dollar fortune, although some family attorneys have claimed that may not necessarily be the case.
As we reported, Naomi asked that Larry have “full authority and discretion” over any property that is an asset to her estate “without the approval of any court” or permission from any beneficiary of the estate when it was created in 2017.
The document continues, “In the event my spouse ceases or fails to serve, then I nominate and appoint my brother-in-law, Reginald Strickland, and Daniel Kris Wiatr as Co-Executors. I direct that no bond shall be required of my Executor.” Wynonna Judd is reportedly speaking with attorneys in order to contest this.
The decision on what is released, if anything, is now up to a judge. A temporary order for relief has already been granted. An evidentiary hearing has been scheduled for September 12.