Angelina Jolie has been pressing for the disqualification of the judge
In court filings dated 1 September, the Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood actor argued that the decision to remove judge John W Ouderkirk from his ongoing custody battle with Jolie should be reviewed by California’s highest court.
The Maleficent actor, meanwhile, has been pressing for the disqualification of judge Ouderkirk since August last year, on grounds he had failed to disclose “ongoing business and professional relationships” with Pitt’s lawyers.
The 2nd District Court of Appeal in California finally granted Jolie’s request to have judge Ouderkirk removed on 23 July.
“Judge Ouderkirk’s ethical breach, considered together with the information disclosed concerning his recent professional relationships with Pitt’s counsel, might cause an objective person, aware of all the facts, reasonably to entertain a doubt as to the judge’s ability to be impartial. Disqualification is required,” said a three-judge panel.
In the 1 September response, Pitt said the judge had been forthcoming over his links with the Fight Club actor and provided multiple disclosures on the matter since 2017. Judge Ouderkirk awarded Pitt joint custody over his six kids in May this year. His removal might reverse that ruling.
Pitt’s response claimed the appellate court made an “administrative error” that could undo “an important and considered custody decision.”
The 87-page court document filed by Theodore J Boutrous Jr, who is Pitt’s attorney, slammed the “crafty” removal of Judge Ouderkirk and alleged that “the lower court’s ruling will reward parties who are losing child custody cases and condone their gamesmanship.”
“Allowing this kind of crafty litigation strategy will deprive parents of irreplaceable time with their children as judges are disqualified for minor reasons in the midst of their cases,” said the document.
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The former couple have been locked in a bitter custody battle over their kids Maddox, Pax, Zahara, Shiloh and twins Knox and Vivienne since they split up in 2016.