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Judge may allow cameras in Prince case

Associated Press Associated Press 29/07/2016

A Minnesota judge overseeing Prince's estate says he'll consider allowing cameras in court on a hearing-by-hearing basis, but broader questions of access into business dealings of the late superstar's entertainment empire - and the many potential heirs claiming a stake to it - will have to wait.

Media organisations, including The Associated Press, have asked Carver County District Judge Kevin Eide to guarantee public access in the case.

Prince, who died April 21 of a drug overdose, had no known will. With no living parents or established children, it's up to the court to sort out which siblings and people claiming to be his offspring will benefit.

Judge Eide has sealed some court filings from potential heirs, and the special administrator handling Prince's fortune has requested a blanket order to seal all business deals.

The judge said he was trying to balance protecting the privacy of the fast-paced entertainment business world and the private histories of Prince's potential heirs while also serving the vast public interest in his life and legacy.

After initially banning cameras and sketch artists from the courtroom during previous hearings, the judge said on Thursday he might grant future requests based on the content of a given hearing.

Leita Walker, the lawyer for news outlets, argued that any proceedings and filings regarding questions of paternity should be public.

"We're dealing with adults who voluntarily entered themselves into this process for the sole purpose of obtaining a piece of Prince's estate," she said.

A lawyer for Brianna and Victoria Nelson, two potential heirs who initially requested that proceedings be closed and cameras banned, said on Thursday they had reversed that position.

But Doug Peterson of Bremer Trust, the court-appointed special estate administrator, said a more cautious approach should be considered, given claimants might have sensitive and private stories.

He is also pushing to keep the estate's business dealings under wraps, asking Judge Eide in a filing this week to broadly seal business documents related to its efforts to monetise Prince's estate. Bremer said its potential partners expected confidentiality, and it could lose negotiating power in future deals if details became widely known.

Ken Abdo, a lawyer for three of Prince's half-siblings, compared the media's interest to "celebrity business voyeurism". And he argued none of the business developments would be public if Prince were still alive.

Walker said that changed when Prince's death launched his estate into the court system.

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