Documents from tussle for Prince's estate to be made public

Prince performing at the Hop Farm Festival near Paddock Wood, England, in 2011.
Prince performing at the Hop Farm Festival near Paddock Wood, England, in 2011. PHOTO: REUTERS

CHICAGO (AFP) - In a court order made public on Thursday (June 30), the US judge deciding who should inherit the estate of late singer Prince ordered that many of the case documents be publicly available.

Judge Kevin Eide, who is presiding over the proceedings in a Minneapolis-area court, reversed an earlier order that had sealed many of the submissions and affidavits from at least 23 claimants to the pop icon's multi-million-dollar estate.

The judge however made an exception for people claiming to be the children of Prince, whose full name was Prince Rogers Nelson.

"The court declines to extend the same protection for documents filed by claimants who are claiming that they are a parent, a sibling, a half-sibling or other relative of Prince Rogers Nelson," Judge Eide said in the order written on Wednesday.

The judge delayed the order until July 11, giving time for parties in the case to voice any objections.

Prince died of an accidental overdose of the opioid painkiller fentanyl on April 21. He left no will or recognised children.

The judge previously ruled that some of those claiming to be Prince's heir could be required to take a DNA test after submitting affidavits, and one such test result is currently sealed.

Wednesday's ruling comes a month before the next hearing in the case, in which lawyers for various media outlets will argue for allowing cameras and microphones into the courtroom.

A coalition of media outlets, including CBS, CNN and the Associated Press, filed a motion requesting access to the courtroom and asking the judge to unseal documents.

In a Monday hearing, Judge Eide decided to take two more weeks to figure out how to determine who will be eligible to inherit Prince's estate, saying he was "in no rush to determine whether one particular person is an heir".

Instead he said he was focused on "whether certain classes or groups of heirs are legally excluded". More than 21 lawyers appeared before Judge Eide, representing about a dozen claimants.