The Minnesota judge overseeing Prince’s estate case won’t allow attorneys 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 media’s 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 cover procedures for determining who stands to inherit part of Prince’s 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 Prince’s son, as he had claimed, according to a person who saw a sealed document and spoke to on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to release the information.
With no known children, Prince’s 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 questions about specific people. Since then, several documents have been filed under seal.
Attorney Leita Walker, who is representing the media companies, said in court 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 recognized Walker’s concerns and has been working to “unravel the knotty issues” involving the public’s right to access and confidentiality rules.
The judge also said the court was reviewing legal requirements about the release of documents and, if appropriate, some may be unsealed.
Meanwhile, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay has purchased the Yellow Cloud electric guitar that Prince used in numerous concerts until the mid-1990s.
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 favorite of the late musician from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s.
Irsay also has instruments once owned by musicians Jerry Garcia of Grateful Dead, John Lennon and Ringo Star of The Beatles and singer-songwriter Bob Dylan.