A ruling in the mental competency case appeal involving Saints owner Tom Benson is expected within a month, attorneys on each side of the dispute said after a hearing Thursday.
Benson attended the hearing of the appeal in New Orleans on Thursday. So did those on the opposite side from him in the matter — his daughter, Renee Benson, and her children, Ryan and Rita LeBlanc.
The courtroom was closed to the public, and a bailiff barred media reporters from even entering the French Quarter courthouse, citing a judicial order.
After the one-hour arguments wrapped up, Benson’s lead attorney, Phil Wittmann, said state 4th Circuit Court of Appeal Judges Dennis Bagneris, Terri Love and Max Tobias asked about what psychiatrists who have examined the Saints owner in the course of the case had said about their findings. They also asked about the legal principles surrounding Benson’s not testifying in the June trial in which he was found to be mentally competent when he cut his daughter and grandchildren out of his succession plans months earlier.
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The relatives’ lead lawyer in New Orleans, Randy Smith, said appealing the trial’s mental competency ruling in favor of Benson, 88, was not an easy experience for his clients. But Smith said it was necessary for his clients to seek an overturning of the ruling to prevent those who might take advantage of Benson and other elderly people in Louisiana from being able to speak for them and make decisions for them.
“This is an important appeal not just for this case — but for the law in the state of Louisiana,” Smith said.
Wittmann said there was no interaction between Benson and Smith’s clients that he saw.