On Saturday April 30th, Ashley Judd and her sister, singer Wynonna Judd announced on social media that their beloved mother, Naomi Judd, had passed away. As most know, Wynonna and Naomi make up award-winning mother-daughter country duo The Judds.
“Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness. We are shattered. We are navigating profound grief and know that as we loved her, she was loved by her public. We are in unknown territory,”their joint statement read.
— The Judds (@juddsofficial) April 30, 2022
Her death came just one day before The Judds were set to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Ashley tearfully said, “I’m sorry that she couldn’t hang on until today.”
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In early August, the Judds, along with Naomi’s husband Larry Strickland, filed a petition to keep Naomi’s death records, including transcripts and recordings, sealed. The petition states that if released, the recordings would cause “significant trauma and irreparable harm.”
The petition also stated that Strickland was not aware his interviews were being recorded.
Tennessee law states that law enforcement officers are permitted to hold records during an ongoing investigation, but once an investigation is closed, the records are usually released, according to PEOPLE.
A few weeks after the family filed the petition, Ashley wrote an op-ed for the New York Times pleading to keep the details of her mother’s death private.
Ashley said that we need to “reform the law enforcement procedures that wreak havoc on mourning families and then exacerbate their traumatic grief by making it public.”
She understands why the police need to investigate need to investigate “a violent death by suicide,” she believes “there is absolutely no compelling public interest in the case of my mother to justify releasing the videos, images and family interviews that were done in the course of that investigation.”
Read her full op-ed here.
On August 31, a Williamson County Chancellor ruled against their petition, saying, “the records do not appear to fall within any recognized exception to the Public Records Act.”
Now, on October 3rd, the Tennessee High Court ruled that the Chancellor should have never ruled against the petition. According to WRAL News, the court vacated Chancellor Joseph A. Woodruff and is sending it back to the Chancery Court for another hearing.
This is a win for the Judds, and we expect them to fight the system to do what’s right.