Naomi Judd’s family has asked a Tennessee court to seal investigation reports and recordings about the music star’s April 30 suicide.
Claiming releasing the investigation records would cause “significant trauma and irreparable harm,” the family petitioned Williamson County Chancery Court to keep them secret. According to the Associated Press report, Friday’s petition by the singer’s husband, Larry Strickland, and her daughters Ashley and Wynonna Judd amended an earlier request filed last week.
A family representative reportedly provided a copy of the petition to The Associated Press with the family’s permission.
Ashley Judd disclosed her mother committed suicide using a gun soon after the singer’s death was announced. She killed herself the day before she was scheduled to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Friday’s filing included details such as Ashley Judd finding her mother alive after she shot herself, according to the report. Ashley reportedly stayed by her mother’s side for approximately 30 minutes until help arrived.
Ashley Judd’s family wants the court to prohibit the Williamson County Sheriff from releasing the records. Among the reasons specified in the petition was the claim that disclosure would include her medical records. The family also asserted they have a right to privacy.
Strickland informed the court he was unaware his interviews with law enforcement were being recorded, adding he shared personal information to help their investigation, the report added.
Ashley Judd claimed she was in “clinical shock, active trauma and acute distress” when interviewed by law enforcement and did not want those video and audio records in the public domain, where they could haunt the family for generations.
The petition said Tennessee media outlets have already filed public records requests about the case, the AP reported.
“Our family continues to grieve together privately, in unity and community, recognizing our mother’s beauty and talents as a gift to the world,” a family statement said. “There has been misinformation circulated as we continue to mourn and we lament that. We ask news organizations only to cover facts.”
It is hard to cover facts when families ask courts to lock public documents from public scrutiny.
Former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis opined, “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants,” meaning public scrutiny improves honest and open government. People may satisfy their minds about a situation by having first-hand access to the source materials that contain important facts.
For instance, Ashley Judd said in interviews after her mother’s death that she was home with her mother that day. She did not hear a gun fired in the house?
In Friday’s court filing, it was revealed she waited with her wounded mother for about 30 minutes before help arrived. So, she did not hear the gunshot that wounded her mother and then she waited with her for help to arrive, for half-an-hour?
Questions are natural in cases of celebrity deaths and more so when it is revealed the last person to see her alive has apparently been bequeathed nothing from her mother’s $25 million estate.