Family Wants Police Reports Sealed in Death of Naomi Judd

Family tells court release of information on police investigation would be traumatic
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 12, 2022 4:23 PM CDT
Court Asked to Seal Files in Death of Naomi Judd
Naomi Judd performs at the CMA Music Festival in Nashville in 2009.   (AP Photo/Josh Anderson, File)

The family of country singer Naomi Judd filed a court petition Friday to seal police reports and recordings made during the investigation into her death. The family filed the petition in Williamson County Chancery Court, saying that the records contain video and audio interviews with relatives in the immediate aftermath of Judd's death, and that releasing such details would inflict "significant trauma and irreparable harm." The petition was filed on behalf of her husband Larry Strickland and her daughters Ashley and Wynonna Judd, the AP reports. A representative provided it to the AP with the family's permission. Judd, 76, died on April 30 at her home in Tennessee.

Her daughter Ashley has previously said that her mother she killed herself, and the family said she was lost to "the disease of mental illness." The court filing also included details about how Ashley Judd found her mother alive after she shot herself. Ashley stayed by her mother's side 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 disclosure would include her medical records and that the family has a right to privacy. Tennessee law generally allows local law enforcement records to be released, but police have the discretion to withhold them while an investigation is ongoing. Once an investigation is closed, that exemption no longer applies.

Strickland and Ashley Judd submitted statements outlining their concerns about the records. Strickland said in the court filing that he was unaware that his interviews with law enforcement were being recorded and that he shared personal and private information to assist the investigation. Ashley Judd said that she was in "clinical shock, active trauma and acute distress" when she spoke with law enforcement and that she did not want those records, including video, audio, and photos, to permanently stay in the public domain and haunt the family for generations. The petition said media outlets in Tennessee had already filed public records requests in her case. Judd's death the day before she was due to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame has garnered intense national media attention on the cause of her death, but also on the filing of estate and will paperwork.

(More Naomi Judd stories.)

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