Naomi Judd’s Family Seeks Voluntary Dismissal of Lawsuit Over Death Records

Naomi Judd Death Lawsuit - Credit: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images
Naomi Judd Death Lawsuit - Credit: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

After previously expressing concern in a petition that public access to details of Naomi Judd’s death would cause “significant trauma and irreparable harm,” the country musician’s family has requested a voluntary dismissal of a lawsuit blocking access to police investigation records, the Associated Press reports.

On April 30, Judd died at the age of 76 in her Tennessee home. Her daughter, Ashley Judd, later revealed that the singer died by suicide with a firearm. “That’s the piece of information that we are very uncomfortable sharing,” she told Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America in May. “But understand that we’re in a position that if we don’t say it, someone else is going to.”

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Initially, the Judd family worried that journalists accessing the police investigation would lead to the distribution of video and audio interviews with family members closely following the death.

Now, the move to dismiss the lawsuit comes after the Judd family noted that journalists who were requesting the police records were not explicitly doing so in search of photos of Judd’s body or the body cam footage captured inside the home.

Though the voluntary dismissal is still subject to the approval of a judge, Williamson County Chancellor Joseph A. Woodruff previously denied the Judd family’s request for an injunction to privatize the investigation records while they pursued an official legal block.

At the time, the Tennessee Supreme Court spoke against Woodruff’s ruling, stating that his ruling should not have specified which records are public and which are private before obtaining a full hearing.

Still, the newly filed notice mentions the introduction of a bill by Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson aiming to deem death investigation records private when the death is not the result of a crime. The legislation would block public access to investigative reports from law enforcement, 911 recordings, body camera footage, photographs, and more collected in connection to non-criminal deaths.

“We stand united as a family and hold fast to our belief that what we said and did in the immediate aftermath of Naomi’s death should remain in the private domain — just as it should for all families facing such devastation,” Ashley Judd wrote in a New York Times op-ed in August.

“We feel deep compassion for Vanessa Bryant and all families that have had to endure the anguish of a leaked or legal public release of the most intimate, raw details surrounding a death,” she continued. “The raw details are used only to feed a craven gossip economy, and as we cannot count on basic human decency, we need laws that will compel that restraint.”

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