Prince estate case to be held behind closed doors as media denied access

Judge denies request to be heard at probate hearing; while owner buys one of Princes guitar at auction

The Minnesota judge supervising Princes estate case wont allow lawyers for several media companies to intervene in an upcoming hearing.

In a letter made public on Saturday, Carver County district judge Kevin Eide denied the medias request to be heard at a probate hearing on Monday, but left open the possibility of scheduling a hearing on the issue of access at a later date.

The media groups asked to intervene to ensure the press and public would have access to estate proceedings and records, and to ensure the hearing remains open in its entirety.

The hearing in Chaska, a Minneapolis suburb, will encompass procedures for determining who stands to inherit part of Princes estate. Prince died on 21 April of an accidental overdose of the drug fentanyl, and no will has been found.

His estate could be worth up to $300 million, and several people have come forward claiming to be heirs.

DNA tests have already determined that a Colorado inmate is not Princes son, as “hes having” claimed, according to a person who insured a sealed document and spoke to on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to release the information.

With no known children, Princes sister, Tyka Nelson, and at least five half-siblings could share in the estate.

In a previous order, Eide barred cameras, audio recordings and sketch artists from the hearing and said he might close portions of it if he has to address paternity the issue of specific people. Since then, several documents have been filed under seal.

Attorney Leita Walker, who is representing the media companies, said in tribunal documents that closing the courtroom would violate the First Amendment and common law rights of access to court proceedings.

There is simply no compelling reason here to depart from the presumption that this probate proceeding is open to the press and public, Walker wrote.

Eide said in his letter that he recognise Walkers concerns and has been working to unravel the knotty issues involving the publics right to access and confidentiality rules.

The judge also said the court was reviewing legal requirements about the release of documentation and, if appropriate, some is a possibility unsealed.

Meanwhile, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay has purchased the Yellow Cloud electric guitar that Prince used in numerous concerts until the mid-1 990 s.

The NFL football team owner and collector of musical instruments paid $137,500 for the guitar at an auction in Beverly Hills on Saturday.

Heritage Auctions, which conducted the auction, says the solid body guitar was a favourite of the late musician from the late 1980 s to the mid-1 990 s.

Irsay also has instruments once owned by musicians Jerry Garcia of Grateful Dead, John Lennon and Ringo Star of The Beatles and singer-songwriter .

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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