A California appeals court threw out the judge in Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s custody dispute, potentially requiring it to start over. The 2nd District Court of Appeal found that Judge John W. Ouderkirk didn’t disclose business dealings with Pitt’s attorneys, leading one to reasonably perceive a lack of impartiality. “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 ... to entertain a doubt as to the judge’s ability to be impartial. Disqualification is required,” the court said in its ruling.
Jolie had requested Ouderkirk to withdraw last August, but he refused. She then brought the matter to court, where a judge said Jolie’s request was too late, leading her to appeal. A representative for Pitt told the Associated Press the ruling had no effect on the “factual evidence which led the judge — and the many experts who testified—to reach their clear conclusion about what is in the children’s best interests.” The former couple had already finalized their divorce, but terms over their five minor children had not yet been agreed upon. With the court’s ruling, it could require them to start over.