The judge overseeing the high profile divorce between Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt has denied Jolie’s claims he’s ‘biased’ against her.
The 45-year-old actress had earlier this month asked to take Judge John W. Ouderkirk off the case amid claims he had failed to disclose an existing relationship between himself and Pitt’s lawyers.
However Ouderkirk countered that he is within his rights to continue working as the celebrity divorce continues to drag on.
‘I will continue to consider accepting other cases as other additional cases may arise from time to time while the Jolie/Pitt case is still pending,’ wrote the judge in court documents obtained by ET on Wednesday.
‘Such other cases might involve party, lawyer‚ law firm and/or witnesses involved in the Jolie/Pitt matter,’ continued the former Los Angeles County Superior Court judge.
He then went on to declare he can and will remain impartial in the family dispute, according to ET.
Jolie has previously been accused of deliberately trying to delay the bitter four-year long divorce battle by Pitt’s legal team, after she filed a request to remove the judge.
However the Academy Award winning actress’ lawyer Samantha Bley DeJean retorted that ‘all my client is asking for is a fair trial based on facts, with no special favors extended to either side,’ in a statement to UsWeekly last Thursday.
The statement adds: ‘The only way litigants can trust the process is for everyone involved to ensure that there’s transparency and impartiality.’
The report also adds a comment from Neama Rahmani, president of West Coast Trial Lawyers, who believes that Judge Ouderkirk is ‘biased in Brad’s favor’ due to the personal connections they have.
An insider recently told UsWeekly of the divorce battle: ‘They’re at a total impasse. And there’s no end in sight.’
As previously reported in court documents, Jolie claimed that Ouderkik – who married the couple at their lavish French wedding in 2014 – failed to disclose ‘ongoing business and professional relationships’ that he had with Pitt’s legal team.
However, Pitt responded in papers filed on August 13, calling Jolie’s filing a ‘Hail Mary’ – an NFL term for a desperate, often last-ditch play.
In them, Pitt’s legal team accuses the actress of making a ‘transparently tactical gambit’ to delay matters, adding that it will be their own children who are ‘hurt most’ by the hold up.
The papers describe Jolie’s request as ‘a thinly-veiled attempt by Jolie to delay the adjudication of long-pending custody issues in this case.’
The former power couple – who first split in 2016, effectively ending a 12-year relationship and two years of marriage – share six children, Maddox, 19, Pax, 16, Zahara, 15, Shiloh, 14, and twins Knox and Vivienne, 12.
Jolie alleged in her filing that Ouderkirk ‘failed to make timely mandatory disclosures of ongoing business and professional relationships between himself’ and Pitt’s legal team.
She added in her request that she was ‘never afforded the opportunity to even raise a concern or to object to the ever-increasing business relationships between Judge Ouderkirk and [Pitt’s] counsel — relationships that were providing a steady stream of income to Judge Ouderkirk and the potential for future work.’
Adding: ‘These are precisely the type of repeat customer circumstances that create doubts about a privately-compensated private judge’s ability to remain impartial.’
Yet, Pitt’s team has responded saying Jolie had been made fully aware that Ouderkirk had accepted ‘additional new engagements’ involving the actor’s team, and that she had ‘never objected’ to Ouderkirk’s ‘continued involvement’ in the proceedings until now.
In Pitt’s response, he also pointed out three times where Jolie and her lawyers are said to have asked to extend Ouderkirk’s appointment to their ongoing divorce case.
The documents add that Pitt is concerned about how the continued delays will affect their children, saying: ‘Unfortunately, the individuals hurt most by Jolie’s transparently tactical gambit are the parties’ own children, who continue to be deprived of a final resolution to these custody issues.’
Jolie’s lawyer DeJean responded to Pitt’s filing last week in a statement to PEOPLE saying: ‘It is unfortunate that Mr. Pitt’s team has sought to intervene ahead of Judge Ouderkirk’s response.’
‘One can only conclude that this is an attempt to obstruct or influence Judge Ouderkirk’s answer. Any delay in these proceedings is due to their zealous attempt to create an unrecognized special exception for their client’s benefit.’
The report adds that a source close to Pitt’s team claim that it was Jolie’s team who actually knew the judge first, and that ‘the only excuse for their filing is that her team knew they were likely to lose and they needed to stall by changing the referee in the fourth quarter.’
‘This is the Judge who married them, someone who her team knew well and who her team actually introduced to the couple,’ a Pitt source claims.