Why can't Angelina Jolie's children testify against Brad Pitt? Actress claims denial of 'fair trial'
Both AngelinaJolie and Brad Pitt had agreed to John Ouderkirk as a private judge in their custody trial. But the actress now wants him off the case
Angelina Jolie submitted documents to California's Second District Court of Appeal on Monday, May 25, complaining that the judge in her custody battle over six kids with Brad Pitt has "refused to hear the minor teenagers" testify. The actress alleges she is being denied "a fair trial" as her minor children's wishes with regard to their "custody fate" are not being heard.
Documents submitted by the 45-year-old actress call for the disqualification of Judge John Ouderkirk from presiding over the case, according to the Associated Press. In court documents, Jolie's lawyer claimed the judge "has failed to adequately consider ... input as to their experiences, needs, or wishes." This reportedly violates the state legal code that allows minors, aged 14 and above, to testify.
Her legal team recently told the appellate court that the judge has refused to let her submit evidence to the court which speaks to the safety and well-being of her minor children, claiming it is "evidence critical to making her case."
No 'Permanence and stability'?
The former couple, who split five years ago, are parents to five minors: Pax, 17, Zahara, 16, Shiloh, 14, and twins Vivienne and Knox, 12. Their eldest son Maddox is 19. Jolie had filed for divorce in 2016 citing 'the health of the family' as the primary reason. The divorce came in a wake of a conflict that occurred when the family was on a private flight from France to Los Angeles. Pitt was allegedly abusive towards their oldest son Maddox, who was 15 at the time, claimed Jolie. Pitt faced no charges in connection to the incident despite probes from the FBI and social services.
Pitt's legal team has since fired back that the presiding judge "has conducted an extensive proceeding over the past six months in a thorough, fair manner and reached a tentative ruling and order after hearing from experts and percipient witnesses." According to Pitt's team, the testimony Jolie provided to the court "lacked credibility in many important areas, and the existing custody order between the parties must be modified, per Mr Pitt’s request, in the best interests of the children." The team of lawyers said further stalling or objecting to custody agreement risk "grave harm upon the children, who will be further denied permanence and stability."
'Conflict of interest'
Jolie and Pitt had both initially agreed to John Ouderkirk as a private judge to keep details of the case from the public. But the actress has since alleged that since the judge has dealings with one of Pitt's lawyers outside of the case, the judge has a possible conflict of interest.
The 'Maleficent' actress is ready to appeal a finalized decision made by the judge in the case as well. As previously reported by MEAWW, each party in the divorce is expected to have spent over $1 million in legal costs already. Experts also believe that the custody battle — with Pitt striving for shared custody — could go on for six more years until the couple's youngest children, twins Knox and Vivienne, reach the age of majority at 18 years old.