NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Country singer Naomi Judd’s family filed a lawsuit on Friday to seal police reports and tapes made during the inquest into her death.
The family filed the motion in Williamson County Chancery Court, saying the recordings contain video and audio interviews with loved ones immediately following Judd’s death, and that disclosure of these details would inflict “significant trauma and irreparable harm”.
The petition was filed on behalf of her husband Larry Strickland and daughters Ashley and Wynonna Judd. A representative provided it to The Associated Press with the family’s permission.
Judd, 76, died April 30 at her home in Tennessee. Her daughter Ashley previously said her mother took her own life, and the family said she was lost to “the disease of mental illness”.
The court filing also included details of how Ashley Judd found her mother alive after shooting herself. Ashley stayed with her mother for 30 minutes until help arrived.
The petition asks the court to prohibit the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office from releasing the records for several reasons, including that the release would include his medical records and that the family has a right to privacy.
Tennessee public records law generally allows local law enforcement records to be released, but police have discretion to retain records while an investigation is ongoing. Once an investigation is closed, this exemption no longer applies.
Strickland and Ashley Judd both submitted statements outlining their concerns about the records. Strickland said in the court filing that he was unaware his interviews with law enforcement were being recorded and that he shared personal and private information to help with the investigation.
Ashley Judd said she was in “clinical shock, active trauma and acute distress” when she spoke to law enforcement and did not want these records, including the video, l audio and photos remain permanently in the public domain and haunt their families for generations.
The petition said the Tennessee media had previously filed public records requests in her case.
Judd’s death the day before his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame brought national media attention to the cause of his death, but also to the filing of the estate and testamentary documents.
A family statement said misinformation about the Judds was spreading and they wanted to get the facts straight, while protecting their grieving process.
“Our family continues to grieve together in private, unity and community, acknowledging our mother’s beauty and talents as a gift to the world,” the family statement read. “Misinformation has circulated as we continue to grieve and we regret it. We ask news agencies to report only the facts. And as we recognize that other families struggling as a loved one faces mental health crises, we encourage them to seek help through NAMI: The National Alliance on Mental Illness available 24 hours a day. 24 at 800-950-6264.
Naomi and her daughter Wynonna Judd scored 14 No. 1 songs during a career that spanned nearly three decades. The red-haired duo combined the traditional Appalachian sounds of bluegrass with polished pop styles, scoring hit after hit in the 1980s. Wynonna led the duo with her powerful vocals, while Naomi provided harmonies and elegant looks on the scene.
The Judds released six studio albums and one EP between 1984 and 1991 and won nine Country Music Association Awards and seven from the Academy of Country Music. They won a total of five Grammy Awards together on hits like “Why Not Me” and “Give A Little Love,” and Naomi won a sixth Grammy for writing “Love Can Build a Bridge.”
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