Journalists will be allowed to attend a court hearing Monday regarding the estate of the late megastar Prince, but any recordings they make will be confined to their notebooks.
Carver County District Judge Kevin Eide ruled Wednesday that members of the public and the media will be allowed to attend the 8:30 a.m. hearing, but that no audio or visual recording will be permitted. Sketch artists also will be forbidden.
Eide is expected to hear arguments regarding genetic testing protocols for determining heirship to Prince’s estate, which has been estimated to be worth between $100 million and $300 million. Eide said in a written order Wednesday that he did not expect to entertain arguments addressing the claims of any potential heirs.
On Wednesday afternoon, Bremer Trust, the special administrator overseeing the estate, filed the results of a genetic test of Carlin Q. Williams — an inmate at a Supermax prison in Colorado who claimed to be Prince’s son. The judge promptly sealed the filing until further notice without a public hearing, citing a Minnesota law protecting privacy rights when determining parentage.
Meantime, the entertainment website TMZ.com and the Associated Press cited unnamed sources in reports stating that the DNA tests proved that Williams was not related to Prince. Williams’ mother, Marsha Henson, had filed a sworn statement indicating that she had unprotected sex with Prince at a hotel in Kansas City in July 1976. The website Radar Online reported Monday that the DNA tests were complete and that a publicist for Williams’ lawyer, Patrick Cousins, was offering journalists a chance to bid for exclusive interviews with Henson.
Williams, whose long criminal history includes drug crimes and violence against women, made no mention in court records of a purported connection to Prince when he was sentenced in 2014 on a federal charge for illegally transporting a gun.
Neither Cousins nor his publicist, Bruce Lewis, responded to requests for comment.
Eide’s order barring audiovisual coverage of Monday’s hearing followed objections by several parties to the case. At least one potential heir — an 11-year-old girl — and her aunt also asked that the hearing be closed to the public on all matters related to heirship.
In his decision, Eide cited several rules and statutes that address courtroom access in paternity cases. One, the Minnesota General Rules of Practice for the District Courts, allows a judge to authorize recording without the consent of all parties, except for cases involving paternity proceedings.
“Members of the public and members of the media will be allowed in the courtroom, as space allows, during the hearing,” he wrote. Eide warned, however, that he reserved the right to close the hearing if he must address individual parentage issues.