In an opinion piece for The New York Times, Ashley Judd explains why she has filed a petition to prevent the release of a report on the death of her mother, Naomi Judd. She says that “the horror” of the experience “will only get worse” if the details of her death are made public because Tennessee law allows police reports, including interviews with family members, from completed investigations to be made public.
Ashley Judd Reveals Why She Wants To Block A Report On Naomi Judd’s Death
In the essay, Judd says her mother, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in her home on April 30, was still alive when police arrived. She also says the constant questions kept her from helping her mother in some of her final moments. The biggest reason she objects to the report, however, is that she says family members said many personal things when they were interviewed without thinking about how those details would become part of the public record.
“I felt trapped and helpless when police officers started asking me questions as my mother’s life was ending,” Judd writes. “I wanted to be there to comfort her when she ‘went home to see her father and younger brother. Instead, I began a series of interviews that made me feel like I had no choice about when, where, or how to participate. This took me away from the precious last days of my mother’s life. And at a time when we were all desperately trying to figure out why she might have killed herself that day, we told each other everything we knew about Mom, her mental illness, and her painful history.
Ashley Judd adds that she doesn’t blame the police officers at the scene because they followed standard procedures in questioning her, but that those procedures were “terrible” and “outdated.” “The men there made us feel like we had no privacy, that we were being interrogated and, in my case, that I could have been a suspect in my mother’s suicide,” she writes.
She says that in early August, her family petitioned the courts to stop the release of the investigative file, which contained interviews that police had conducted with her and her family “when we were at our most vulnerable and least able to understand that what we said so candidly that day could be made public.” This deeply personal and medical information does not belong in the press, on the Internet or anywhere else except in our memories.”
Judd says she doesn’t know if the court “will agree with our belief that what we said and did in the immediate aftermath of Naomi’s death should be kept private, as it should be for all families facing such a tragedy.” I don’t think we will be able to get the privacy we deserve. We are nervously awaiting the court’s decision. I know, however, that we are not alone. We have great sympathy for Vanessa Bryant and all the families who have gone through the pain of having the most personal, raw details about a death leaked or made public by law.
The actress says she disagrees with the report on two counts: she doesn’t want sensitive information that family members shared with investigators under pressure, and she doesn’t want to know what Naomi Judd’s wounds and pain looked like when she died.
“Some people know her as a Grammy Award winner, some people know her as the nicest person they’ve ever sat next to on an airplane. She was my mother, and when we had family dinners, she would put salt and pepper shakers at every seat and loved to talk about everything from paleoanthropology to neuroscience. She should be remembered for how she lived, which was silly humor, fame on stage, and unfailing kindness off stage, not for the private details of how she suffered when she died.