The Maleficent star, 45, alleged in court documents filed on Monday, August 10, that Judge John W. Ouderkirk “failed to disclose” that he has a professional relationship with one of the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood actor’s attorneys, Lance Stephen Spiegel, which she argued goes against ethical standards.
After submitting the paperwork, Jolie’s lawyer Samantha Bley DeJean told Us Weekly, “All my client is asking for is a fair trial based on facts, with no special favors extended to either side. The only way litigants can trust the process is for everyone involved to ensure that there is transparency and impartiality.”
Pitt’s legal team has since responded, calling the Tomb Raider star’s request “belated” and a “thinly veiled attempt” at delaying “the adjudication of long-pending custody issues” in the case.
The Fight Club star’s attorneys said in court documents obtained by Us that Ouderkirk “has had a well-documented history” with the former couple, who split in September 2016 and became legally single in April 2019. They noted that Jolie “hand-selected” the judge to preside over her August 2014 wedding to Pitt, 56, and that the actress “never objected” to Ouderkirk’s “continued involvement” in the case until recently.
“Jolie’s abrupt cry of judicial bias reeks of bad faith and desperation, not to mention careless disregard for the procedural rules intended to root out legitimately conflicted judicial officers,” Pitt’s lawyers said in the documents. “Unfortunately, the individuals hurt most by Jolie’s transparently tactical gambit are the parties’ own children, who continue to be deprived of a final resolution to these custody issues. Jolie’s motion should therefore be denied.”
In response to the filing, Jolie’s attorney DeJean told Us, “It is unfortunate that Mr. Pitt’s team has sought to intervene ahead of Judge Ouderkirk’s response. One can only conclude that this is an attempt to obstruct or influence Judge Ouderkirk’s answer. Any delay in these proceedings is due to their zealous attempt to create an unrecognized special exception for their client’s benefit.”
Although the Mr. & Mrs. Smith costars were declared divorced last year, they have yet to resolve issues such as custody, child support and other finances. Their trial is scheduled to begin in October.
Pitt and Jolie share six children: Maddox, 19, Pax, 16, Zahara, 15, Shiloh, 14, and twins Knox and Vivienne, 12.
Us Weekly has reached out to Ouderkirk for comment.
With reporting by Brody Brown and Marjorie Hernandez
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