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Naomi Judd family sues Williamson County, sheriff to prevent release of death investigation records

Naomi Judd
Posted at 3:31 PM, Aug 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-12 16:53:10-04

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WTVF)  — The Judd family sued Williamson County and its sheriff Friday afternoon to prevent the release of some of the records related to Naomi Judd's death.

Judd died by suicide this year, as revealed by her daughter, Ashley, on Good Morning America with Diane Sawyer. Judd's husband Larry Strickland and her daughters, Ashley and Wynonna, are named in the suit as the plaintiffs. Several media outlets have filed open records requests around the case, including NewsChannel 5.

"Our family continues to grieve together privately, in unity and community, recognizing our mother's beauty and talents as a gift to the world," the family said in a statement Friday. "There has been misinformation circulated as we continue to mourn and we lament that. We ask news organizations only to cover facts. As we recognize other families struggling as a loved one faces mental health crises, we encourage them to seek help through NAMI: The National Alliance on Mental Illness available 24 hours a day at 800-950-6264."

Before a full decision can be rendered, the family has filed for a temporary injunction to stop the release of any records.

"(The Judds) will suffer significant trauma and irreparable harm in the form of emotional distress, pain and mental anguish should these records be released," attorney J. Michael Shipman II wrote in the suit. "Moreover, the release of these records would continue to cause the entire family personal and public pain for years to come as they would undoubtedly live in perpetuity on the internet."

Shipman argued once the records were released, no other restrictions could have happened to stop further dissemination. Some of the records would include photographs and videos depicting her death.

"The plaintiff's are continuing to grieve over the loss of their wife and mother," Shipman wrote. "This broad dissemination and public reporting of the details of Ms. Judd's death would be traumatic and cause irreparable harm to the plaintiffs in the form of emotional distress, pain and mental anguish as they grieve the loss of their mother."

The case will be heard in its totality Sept. 12. at 1:30 p.m. in the Williamson County Chancery Court. A judge hasn't yet been assigned to the case.

Attorneys for the Williamson County government weren't immediately available for comment.

Ben Hall contributed to this report.