Naomi Judd’s family files a petition asking the court to seal the death investigation report

NASHVILLE, TEN — Country singer Naomi Judd’s family on Friday filed an amended court order to seal police reports and records made during the inquest into her death.

The family filed the petition in Williamson County Chancery Court, saying the recordings included video and audio interviews with relatives immediately after Judd’s death and releasing such details would cause “significant trauma and irreparable harm.”

The petition was filed on behalf of the singer’s husband, Larry Strickland, and their daughters, Ashley and Wynonna Judd, and was a more detailed follow-up to an earlier request from the family last week. A representative provided it to The Associated Press with permission from the family.

Judd, 76, died April 30 at her home in Tennessee. Her daughter Ashley has previously said her mother killed herself and the family said she was lost to “the disease of insanity”.

Friday’s court filings also included details of how Ashley Judd found her mother alive after she shot herself. Ashley stayed by her mother’s side and waited 30 minutes for help to arrive.

The petition asks the court to bar the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office from releasing the records on a number of grounds, including that disclosure would include her medical records and the family’s right to privacy.

Tennessee’s Public Records Act generally permits the release of local law enforcement records, but police may retain records at their discretion while an investigation is ongoing. Once an investigation is closed, this exception no longer applies. The AP left a message for the sheriff on Friday asking him for comment.

Strickland, Wynonna and Ashley Judd filed statements outlining their concerns about the records. Strickland said in the court filing that he was unaware that his interviews with law enforcement would be recorded, adding that he shared personal and private information to help the investigation.

Ashley Judd said she was in “clinical shock, active trauma and acute distress” when she spoke to law enforcement and she did not want these recordings, including video, audio and photos, to remain publicly available permanently and family follow generations.

The petition states that media outlets in Tennessee have already made public record requests in her case.

Judd’s death, the day before she was due to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, has drawn national media attention for the cause of death, but also for the filing of probate and will documents.

A statement from the family said misinformation was being spread about the Judds and they wanted to state the facts while protecting their privacy during the grieving process.

“Our family continues to mourn in private, in unity and community, and recognizes the beauty and talents of our mother as a gift to the world,” the statement said. “Misinformation has been spread as we continue to mourn, and we lament it. We only ask news organizations to report facts. And as we recognize that other families struggle while a loved one is dealing with mental health crises, we encourage them to seek help through NAMI: The National Alliance on Mental Illness at 800-950-6264 or by calling 988 24 hours a day accessible.”

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Naomi Judd’s family files a petition asking the court to seal the death investigation report

Laura Coffey

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