Legal Analyst: ‘Benson should take the stand’

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - The family feud continues over billionaire Tom Benson's sports empire. The Saints and Pelicans owner was back in civil court Tuesday for the second day of his competency hearing. The legal fight is between Benson and his daughter Renee and her children (Rita and Ryan LeBlanc) for control of his businesses.

"Everything's going alright.  Everything's looking great," Benson told reporters after watching Renee and Rita LeBlanc testify.

The family is trying to convince the judge that Benson is no longer capable of making sound decisions about his professional sports teams. A couple months ago, a judge ordered a panel of three doctors to analyze Benson's mental state. One of those doctors could take the stand to reveal his findings Tuesday or Wednesday. LeBlanc's lawyer spoke Tuesday about the case before going inside the courthouse.

"It's not an easy day for my clients and they prefer not to be in this situation. They love their father and grandfather they have been involved in his businesses. Each one of them has been involved in their businesses since they were teenagers and the whole situation is hard. A loved one gets older and needs to be properly protected," said Attorney Randy Smith.

Smith is also stressing that the LeBlancs are not testifying against Benson.

They're testifying for him, for what's best for him and for all of us," Smith said Tuesday evening while leaving the courthouse.  When asked to describe the tone in the courtroom as the LeBlancs testified, Smith simply said, "Somber."

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The media is not allowed into the closed courtroom, court documents have been sealed, and a gag order is in place, but Monday, Benson appeared cheerful, at one point giving TV cameras a thumbs up sign. And he actually spoke with the media on-camera for the first time, briefly, saying:

"I'm still walking, so I feel good. I can't talk about nothing. I just feel good. Boy am I glad to see you guys. I'm in good spirits," said Benson.

On Tuesday, he was more tight-lipped, only exchanging friendly greetings with photographers, then he said, "I better keep my mouth shut."

To which his lawyer Phillip Wittmann replied with a laugh,"That's probably a good idea."

Considering all the restrictions on the case and Benson now coming forward, engaging with the media so freely, WGNO Anchor Jacki  Jing brought in Legal Analyst Craig Mordock to weigh in. Click on the video above to see what Mordock has to say about Benson's recent behavior outside of the courthouse, in front of the cameras, if Benson should take the stand down the road, the importance of the three panel doctor testimony and more.


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