After the June ruling that gave Brad Pitt joint custody of five out six of their children, Angelina Jolie promised to appeal the ruling and fight for her kids’ rights. On Friday, the 2nd District Court of Appeal in California sided with the mom-of-six and dismissed the former couple’s private judge, Judge John W. Ouderkirk, for an “ethical breach” after consistently working with Pitt’s lawyers in other cases.
“Judge Ouderkirk’s ethical breach, considered together with the information disclosed concerning his recent professional relationships with Pitt’s counsel, might cause an objective person, aware of all the facts, reasonably to entertain a doubt as to the judge’s ability to be impartial. Disqualification is required,” said the court, per Page Six. One of Jolie’s main concerns was that Pax, 17, Zahara, 16, and Shiloh’s, 15, voices were not heard in the case even though California law allows children 14 and over to “address the court regarding custody or visitation” if the judge permits it. (Twins Knox and Vivienne, 12, are too young to testify.) Only 19-year-old Maddox’s opinion was heard, even though he is not subject to the custody case, and according to Us Weekly, the testimony was not “very flattering” toward Pitt.
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Marin County divorce attorney Brent Kaspar weighed in on the ruling for SheKnows via email and simply stated, “Judge Ouderkirk screwed up” because “under California judicial ethics, there is an absolute, ironclad obligation to disclose potential conflict — and that includes any financial interests. What appears to have happened is that Ouderkirk was getting cases referred to him by Brad Pitt’s counsel, and for two years he did not continue to disclose these financial ties.”
Kaspar continued, “The perception of bias is the real concern here. The judicial system doesn’t work if the public doesn’t trust the fact-finders, and this applies to both public and private judges.” Jolie’s request to get Ouderkirk removed from the case goes back to August 2020, when a lower court ruled that her filing came too late in the process. So Friday’s outcome is a real victory for Jolie, but the appellate court did not rule on whether her older children would be allowed to share their thoughts on the custody case. That crucial part of the Jolie-Pitt divorce is another chapter that has yet to be written.
Before you go, click here to see all the celebrities who are the parents of twins.
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