The Court denies Respondent's Ex-Parte request for Order to Seal Records
The Court finds no emergency requiring ex-parte relief. In addition, the proposed broad sealing order fails to meet the requirements of the California Rule of Court 2.550. The Court states that such ruling should not delay any filing of a Request for Order by Respondent as such may be filed conditionally under seal following the procedures under California Rule of Court 2.551. Any proposed sealing order must specifically identify the documents to be sealed. In connection therewith the Court recognized the privacy rights of the minor children and will be guided by what is in the minor children's best interests.
The emails in order
Re Marriage of Pitt
Pursuant to our conversation this morning, I confirm the following:
1. I have proposed that Dr. Jonathan Salk be included in the therapy process. Dr Salk has excellent credentials and experience and would provide important input regarding the trauma issues.
2. I have informed you that the frequency of therapy sessions between Brad and the children needs to be increased to at least twice per week and that Brad wants to designate the location for these sessions in order to facilitate consistency.
3. We have agreed that I can preserve priority in depositions without the necessity of my noticing your client's deposition.
4. You have requested additional time to consider and respond to whether or not your client will stipulate to seal the custody pleadings.
5. You have also suggested that I contact the children's therapists regarding their perspectives about the progress of therapy to date.
cc Brad Pitt
Nov 18, 2016
Re: Marriage of Jolie Pitt
I am in receipt of your letter of November 17, 2016. With regard to items 1 and 2, I believe it is important to rely on the suggestion confirmed in item 5 of your letter. As I said during our conversation yesterday, we believe that the children's therapists, Catherine Green and Angela Bissada are in the best position to determine whether Dr. Salk is necessary in the current therapy process. As you are aware, both Angela Bissada and Ian Russ have extensive training and experience in therapy of trauma issues. If the therapists feel that Dr. Salk could be a valuable addition to the team, we will certainly confer with our client.
With regard to the frequency of therapy sessions, you state that they need to be increased to at least twice a week and that Brad wants to designate the location for these sessions in order to facilitate consistency. I am wondering about your choice of the word "need" and again defer to the therapists to determine frequency. As to location, I am certain that the parties, with the help of their security team, can come up with a venue that makes sense for this family.
You will recall that only three weeks ago we signed a custody Stipulation and a week and a half ago Ian disseminated his recommendations. I understand that a schedule for the visits is in place through January. Please explain what has changed since October 26 and/or November 9, 2016.
With regard to an agreement that we request that the Court seal the custody pleadings, please specify what custody pleadings you intend to file. To my knowledge, we are currently operating under the terms of he Stipulation and following the Nov. 9, 2016 recommendations. Nothing further should be filed until next February at the earliest. It is my hope that we will be able to resolve custody issues in this case without the need for litigation. During our discussions, you have indicated that you agree. Continued rhetoric regarding a stipulation to seal pleadings we hope not to file seems counter intuitive.
During our 11:30 a.m. call yesterday, you asked whether it was acceptable that you spoke to Ian Russ unilaterally. I advised that it was. I was not aware that Azita and Gary were meeting with Ian while we were having our conversation wherein you confirmed our authorization for such communications.
Today Samantha and I met with Ian at his request. We believe that rather than separate meetings, an all-hands meeting which includes Ian Russ, Angela Bissada, Catherine Green, Judy Goldman, Lisa Hacker and the parties' Family Law attorneys would be most productive. I think that in order to be good liaisons between our clients and the mental health professionals, it is important we hear what they have to say firsthand and at the same time. Perhaps such a meeting could prove helpful in resolving some, if not all, of the issues raised in your letters of Nov. 15 and Nov. 17, 2016.
Please let me know your thoughts.
cc Angelina Jolie (via email)
Re Marriage of Pitt
This is in response to your correspondence dated Nov. 18, 2016 and initially reviewed this morning.
I am concerned that there has been a breakdown in communications. My proposals regarding Dr. Salk, frequency of sessions and location were in response to your question of how to stay focused on therapy efforts rather than litigation. I was not inviting debate about the needs for Dr. Salk or increased frequency and was not suggesting an all hands discussion regarding those subjects.
During our conversation, I asked about my contacting the children's therapists, not Dr. Russ. I was aware that the lawyers could meet with Dr. Russ and in fact both Gary and I previously have met with him.
Based on Dr. Salk's reputation and experience, we believe that he would provide assistance to the experts and the parties in dealing with the trauma concerns. The request for increased frequency and location were based on several factors, including the difficulty in scheduling and last-minute changes that have impeded the process.
Our client has made a major effort and commitment to the ongoing therapy efforts. However, his limited access to the children is not acceptable. My original message was and is that unless there are changes to the process, it is not going to accomplish its objectives.
Please advise whether your client will agree to Dr. Salk and commit to increasing the frequency of sessions with the children.
cc Brad Pitt
Nov. 28 5:43 PM
Between now and the start of the holidays/school break, Brad is requesting 30 to 60 minutes sessions to be scheduled as follows: 1 session with the twins, 1 sessions with the middle kids, 1 session with all 4, one session with the older boys and if they are not going to participate, another session with the 4 younger kids.
Darren, Michael O. or Richie can be present. The sessions will be at a home that is approximately 10 minutes from your clients residence.
There will be a request for a step-up in connection with the holidays/school break
Please let me know good time for us to talk tomorrow.
Nov. 29, 8:28 AM
From Laura Wasser
To Lance Spiegel
cc Alicia Thomas
Re Access outside of therapy
Good morning Lance,
As I told you yesterday. I am out of the office today and not in a position to forward your request to my client for discussion until tomorrow
Are we confirmed for a meeting with the children's therapists on Monday at our office at 9:30AM? I understand that their impressions and opinions will not be dispositive of whether there is a shift in the status quo which increases Brad's interaction with the children and begins visits which are in a non-therapeutic setting, I do think that we ought to hear what they have to say and give some weight to their expertise.
I should have more to report tomorrow afternoon once I return to LA and Angie and I have had a chance to discuss.
To Laura Wasser
cc Alicia Thomas
Nov. 29 10:38 AM
Re Access outside of therapy
For the past 3 months, Brad has complied with every aspect of the therapy process, notwithstanding ongoing concerns that the therapy team has ignored or disregarded issues that he has raised. At the same time, the process has been hampered by scheduling and other logistical problems that have resulted in significant periods of no contact between Brad and the children. His access to the children is and has been far more limited than it should be and is much less than any judge is likely to order on a going forward basis.
As I mentioned yesterday, it would be misleading for me to tell you that the request for access may be impacted by the opinions of the kids' therapists. Regardless of their views, there is no reason for Brad not to request court orders that are likely to include more access than I proposed yesterday. If your client is willing to agree to our proposal, we can avoid the necessity of filing an RFO and the meeting next week can be for the purpose of us telling the therapists that the parties have agreed to non-therapy access.
Bottom line is that I need to know whether your client will agree to yesterday's proposal.
Dec 1, 2016
Re Marriage of Jolie Pitt
Our meeting yesterday left me feeling disconcerted. You have told us that you intend to file a request for additional non-therapeutic visitation and do not seem to have any regard for what the children's therapists feel is in their best interests.
I understand that Brad is frustrated but feel that it is incumbent upon us to help this family achieve their long-term reunification goals in a smooth and expeditious manner. Litigation absolutely does not effectuate that goal.
Is it not the end goal that within the next 6-12 months Brad is enjoying frequent and continuous contact with all of the children on a joint custodial basis? If we know that we will get to that point via either costly, ugly, protracted and public court battles or by virtue of out-of-court resolution and the therapeutic process upon which we all agreed less than a month ago, why would you opt to blow it all up and choose the former?
Please give the therapists a chance to tell us how the kids are feeling. I absolutely know that it will not be dispositive of your/your client's decision on how to proceed but I cannot imagine that it will not shape how we move forward.
There must be a middle ground upon which we can all agree, one which does not necessitate a public battle. Angie's reluctance to enter into a stipulation to seal the file stems from her firm belief that litigation is the wrong decision.
We have discussed a custody evaluation in this matter. As we advised yesterday, we are agreeable and would like it to commence immediately. We propose that Dr. Lulow be appointed. Is Brad agreeable? You have told us that you will not agree to the appointment of minor's counsel. We feel it is essential that the children have advocates who can communicate with the evaluator or the judge on their behalf. Will you reconsider? We also propose that the parties participate in joint sessions with a trauma specialist so that they may learn how to best support and interact with their children given their current state.
Please consider and ask your client to engage with us in trying to figure out how to effectively satisfy this family's concerns.
cc Angelina Jolie
Dec 2, 2016
Re Marriage of Pitt
This is in response to your letter dated Dec. 1, 2016
The message that I attempted to deliver on Wednesday was that it is inconceivable to me that the court will not provide Brad with much greater access to the children than the time that I proposed earlier this week. It would be an extraordinary understatement to describe Brad as an involved parent. Based on evidence that has been corroborated by multiple sources (including public and private statements from your client), he has been a great father and there is no reason to exclude him from the children, including the isolated incident that was investigated and rejected by the DCFS.
As you know, we have confirmed that we will be present for the meeting on Monday. However, I have to tell you that this case is not going to end up in a court room because of my reluctance to listen to the therapists. If there is litigation, it is going to be because your client is either unable or unwilling to recognize that the children need to continue to have two loving parents in their lives.
I will get back to you regarding Dr. Lulow and on Monday I hope that you will be able to respond to Brad's request regarding the holidays.
cc Brad Pitt
From Laura Wasser
To Lance Spiegel
cc Samantha Klein, Linda Bigbee
Subject Jolie / Pitt
Dec. 2, 2:41PM
Yesterday morning I sent you a letter regarding various custody issues and have yet to receive a response. We believe it is prudent to commence a child custody evaluation and to appoint minors' counsel. You have made it clear that Brad intends to file an RFO for increased custodial time next week and that nothing the therapists say during our meeting on Monday will change Brad's position. Therefore, we will be filing the Stipulation & Order Re Custody and Therapy. We have repeatedly attempted to avoid any court intervention. Brad's position made that impossible.
From Lance Spiegel
Sent Friday, Dec 2, 2016 3:03PM
To Laura Wasser
cc Alicia Thomas
Subject RE Jolie/Pitt
First of all, a response was sent to you this afternoon (if you have not received it let me know and I will resend)
The stipulation provides that it may be filed for enforcement purposes. There has been no hint or suggestion of non-compliance with the stipulation and there is, therefore, no basis for you to file the stipulation. The proposed or actual filing of an RFO is not a "violation" that entitles you to file the stipulation and you will be in violation if you prematurely file it.
From Lance Spiegel
Sent Friday Dec 2, 2016 4:27PM
To Laura Wasser, Samantha Klein
cc Gary Fishbein, Alicia Thomas
Subject FW: Jolie/Pitt
In addition to there being no enforcement issues that entitle you to file stipulation, I want to point out that the stipulation contains confidential information regarding the children being in therapy and the names of their therapists. The public disclosure of such information has serious privacy implications and is potentially damaging.
MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES
Petitioner Angelina Jolie Pitt submits the within Memorandum of Pints and Authorities in opposition the the Ex Parte Application and Request for Order noticed by Respondent William Bradley Pitt for hearing on Dec 7, 2016.
The governing statutes and case law restrict the use of ex parte applications to situations which generally can be claimed as "emergencies," where substantial injury, harm, or at the very least. prejudice would result if the matter were not either resolved immediately or on shortened time. Respondent and his counsel apparently believe that such limitations apply to other but not to them.
Respondent's ex parte application to seal all documents and/or evidence relating to the parties' minor children and their child custody dispute must be denied as a matter of law. There is no express authority to seal a court file. Furthermore, the facts of this case do not suggest an emergency or even urgency. Petitioner and Respondent have had a child custody visitation order in place since October 2016 for their six minor children. This order was based on the recommendations of the minor children's therapists after the Dept. of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and the FBI initiated investigations into allegations of abuse during an incident on Sept. 14, 2016.
Respondent has nonetheless indicated his intention to seek additional visitation and/or custody beyond that which is recommended by the minor children's therapists. Respondent is now simply attempting to create a private forum before formally applying for such visitation and/or custody. Given that it was Respondent's conduct at the center of the DCF and FBI investigations, it is Respondent who ostensibly has much to hide. His ex parte request is a thinly veiled attempt to shield himself, rather than the minor children, from public view.
There is no emergency currently before this Court. There is, in fact, no urgency at all. As set forth in detail in the concurrently filed declaration of Laura A. Wasser, Respondent simply appears to be trying to seal this case from the public record before he seeks visitation and/or child custody orders contrary to the minor children's therapists' recommendations and the parties current custody/visitation order. Petitioner is entitled to at least 16 court days notice in order to investigate and understand Respondent's contentions and to put forth her own case.
Given that there is no emergency or even urgency, Petitioner respectfully requests that Respondent's ex parte application be denied in its entirety.
Dated Dec. 6, 2016
Attorney for Petitioner
DECLARATION OF LAURA A. WASSER, ESQ
I, Laura A. Wasser, hereby declare as follows:
1. I am an attorney at law duly license to practice before all courts of the State of California, and am a partner in the firm of Wasser, Cooperman & Mandles, P.C., attorneys of record for Petitioner Angelina Jolie Pitt. I have personal knowledge of the following facts, and if called as a witness, I could and would competently testify thereto.
2. Our firm has represented Petitioner since September 2016. On Sept. 19, 2016, our firm filed a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage from Respondent William Bradley Pitt on Petitioner's behalf. A true and correct copy of the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is attached as Exhibit A. The Petition included custody requests regarding the parties' six minor children...
3. It is my understanding that on Sept. 14, 2016, the parties and their minor children were involved in an incident during a flight from Europe to California. As a consequence of that incident, the DCFS and the FBI initiated investigations regarding allegations of abuse.
4. It is my further understanding that since the Sept. 14, 2016 incident, the minor children have lived exclusively with Petitioner. Respondent has had weekly therapeutic visits with the minor children since Oct. 8, 2016. The frequency and duration of these visits have been determined by the minor children's therapists, who were put in place jointly by the parties immediately after the Sept. 14, 2016 incident. The therapists have been present during each of the Respondent's visits. WIth the cooperation of the parties, further weekly therapeutic visits of 5 hours each have been scheduled through the end of January 2017. Respondent's visits may increase at any time based on the therapists' evaluation of each child's individual feelings and progress.
5. On Oct. 26, 2016, the parties executed a Stipulation and Order re Child Custody and Therapy (Custody Stipulation). A true correct copy of the Custody Stipulation is attached as Exhibit B.
The Custody Stipulation memorializes the custody and visitation arrangement set forth above and incorporates recommendations made by DCFS. I have not attached copies of documents our office received from DCFS in order to protect the minor children's privacy and to comply with confidentiality statutes.
6. Approximately one week after the Custody Stipulation was executed, our office received a copy of Respondent's Response and Request for Dissolution of Marriage. A true and correct copy of the Response and Request for Dissolution of Marriage filed on Nov. 4, 2016 is attache as Exhibit C. Our office previously granted Respondent an open extension of time to file his response; there was no deadline to file.
7. By mid-November, our office began receiving demands from Respondent's counsel for increased visitation which was not recommended by the minor children's therapists and not agreed upon when the parties entered into the Custody Stipulation less than one month earlier. True and correct copies of Respondent's counsel's letters of Nov. 17, 2016 and Nov 21, 2016 demanding additional visitation are attached collectively as Exhibit D. In both face to face meetings and written correspondence, our office maintained that it was premature to end the therapeutic monitoring only weeks after executing the Custody Stipulation encompassing both the therapists' and DCFS's recommendations. A true and correct copy of my letter of Nov 18, 2016 clearly outlining our position is attached as Exhibit E.
8. Our office requested a joint meeting with both parties' counsel and the minor children's therapists to get their impressions. For weeks, Respondent's counsel indicated Respondent would not consent to such a meeting. Respondent's counsel instead continued to demand additional visitation for Respondent without regard for the mental health professionals' recommendations. A true and correct copy of our email exchange on Nov 28 / 29 2016 detailing additional demands is attached as exhibit F.
9. On Dec 1, 2016, our office finally received Respondent's consent to conduct as joint meeting with counsel and therapists the following week. However, Respondent's request for additional visitation in an non-therapeutic setting was not withdrawn and his counsel continued to advise that they intended to file a Request for Order. Our office therefore sent a letter to Respondent's counsel of Dec 1, 2016 requesting compliance with the Custody Stipulation and the therapists' recommendations. A true and correct copy of our Dec 1, 2016 letter is attached as Exhibit G.
10. On Dec. 2, 2016, our office received a response to my letter of he previous day which again suggested that Respondent sought additional visitation with the minor children and would be requesting same from the court. A true and correct copy of the Dec. 2, 2016 letter is attached as Exhibit H. The same day we filed a copy of the Custody Stipulation with the Court for enforcement purposes.
11. On Dec 6, 2016 our office received ex parte notice of Respondent's intent to apply for orders sealing the file in this case. A true an correct copy of the Dec. 6, 2016 letter confirming notice is attached as Exhibit I
I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of he State of California that the foregoing is true and correct.
Executed this 6th day of December 2016 at Los Angeles, California
LAURA A. WASSER
DECLARATION OF WILLIAM BRADLEY PITT
I, William Bradley Pitt, declare as follows:
1. I am the Respondent in these proceedings. I have firsthand, personal knowledge of the facts, stated herein, and if called as a witness, I could and would competently testify thereto, except as to those matters alleged on information and belief as a those matters, I believe them to be true.
2. Petitioner and I have been unable to agree on a custody schedule and I intend to file a Request for Orders to establish as schedule unless an agreement is reached. I am extremely concerned that if court records regarding custody are not sealed, information contained therein will cause irreparable damage to our children's privacy rights. In order to protect our children from irreparable damage to their privacy rights, I am respectfully requesting all custody-related pleadings be sealed.
I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California that the foregoing is true and correct.
Executed this 6 day of December, 2016 at Beverly Hills, California
WILLIAM BRADLEY PITT