Jolie seeks removal of private judge in Pitt divorce case

This combination photo shows Angelina Jolie at the world premiere of "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" in Los Angeles on Sept. 30, 2019, left, and Brad Pitt at the special screening of "Ad Astra" in Los Angeles on Sept. 18, 2019.  Jolie asked Monday that the private judge overseeing her divorce from Pitt be disqualified from the case because of insufficient disclosures of his business relationships with one of Pitts attorneys. In a filing in Los Angeles Superior Court, Jolie argues that Judge John W. Ouderkirk should be taken off the divorce case because he was too late and not forthcoming enough about other cases involving Pitt attorney Anne Kiley. Pitts attorneys did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. (AP Photo)
This combination photo shows Angelina Jolie at the world premiere of "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil" in Los Angeles on Sept. 30, 2019, left, and Brad Pitt at the special screening of "Ad Astra" in Los Angeles on Sept. 18, 2019. Jolie asked Monday that the private judge overseeing her divorce from Pitt be disqualified from the case because of insufficient disclosures of his business relationships with one of Pitts attorneys. In a filing in Los Angeles Superior Court, Jolie argues that Judge John W. Ouderkirk should be taken off the divorce case because he was too late and not forthcoming enough about other cases involving Pitt attorney Anne Kiley. Pitts attorneys did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. (AP Photo)

LOS ANGELES – Angelina Jolie asked Monday that the private judge overseeing her divorce from Brad Pitt be disqualified from the case because of insufficient disclosures of his business relationships with one of Pitt's attorneys.

In a filing in Los Angeles Superior Court, Jolie argues that Judge John W. Ouderkirk should be taken off the divorce case that she filed in 2016 because he was too late and not forthcoming enough about other cases he was hired for involving Pitt attorney Anne C. Kiley.

It says that during the Jolie-Pitt proceedings Ouderkirk has “failed to disclose the cases that demonstrated the current, ongoing, repeat-customer relationship between the judge and Respondent’s counsel.”

It goes on to say that Pitt's attorney “actively advocated for Judge Ouderkirk’s financial interests in moving — over the opposing party’s opposition — to have his appointment (and his ability to continue to receive fees) extended in a high profile case.”

An email to Kiley and Pitt's lead attorney Lance Spiegel seeking comment was not returned, nor was an email seeking comment from Ouderkirk.

Pitt and Jolie, like other high-profile couples, are paying for a private judge in their divorce case to keep many of its filings and the personal and financial details within them sealed, though some legal moves must be made within standard court procedure.

Jolie's filing emphasizes that a private judge must follow the same rules of disclosure and conflict of interest that other judges must.

The filing says “it doesn’t matter if Judge Ouderkirk is actually biased. Under California law disqualification is required so long as a person aware of the facts ‘might reasonably entertain a doubt’ about Judge Ouderkirk’s ability to remain impartial.”