by Sophie Marconi
On August 29 at approximately 2:00 pm the case regarding Eric Gilson and Claire Benoit resumed in Department 3 with Judge Kathleen White back presiding. Deputy District Attorney Tiffany Susz was present, representing the child abduction unit, as well as Eric Gilson and his defense attorney. Unfortunately, Kim Robinson, Claire Benoit’s attorney, was not able to be present for the hearing because she was in a trial currently taking place in Marin County.
Judge White attempted to call Ms. Robinson so she could be present during the hearing via telephone, but was not able to reach her at first. Approximately 15 minutes after the original call, Judge White was able to make contact with Ms. Robinson and the hearing proceeded as planned.
Judge White expressed concern that, while the trial was set for the week of October 11, considering the current state of the case it is highly unlikely that this is a realistic trial date. She then addressed Mr. Gilson’s attorney and his request to decline response to discovery, due to the fact that Ms. Benoit has still not complied with court orders to return to the States.
Judge White responded that she would not permit this request, as pre-trial discovery should be handled regardless of where clients are. However, Judge White also stated that no ruling could be made until Ms. Benoit returns to the United States.
At this point, Ms. Robinson chimed in to express that she had made efforts to contact the welfare services case worker regarding the court orders with which Benoit has failed to comply, but unfortunately Ms. Robinson had not heard back from that person. Robinson also stated that she never received any discovery requests from Mr. Gilson’s attorney.
Ms. Robinson also stated that Mr. Gilson has a history of mental illness and that she wanted to have access to the documentation regarding incidents related to his condition. At this point, Judge White redirected the conversation, stating that the priority in this case is to help the children. Judge White stated that the children cannot be helped until all evidence appears in trial, and all evidence cannot appear in trial until all parties involved, including Ms. Benoit, are present in court.
Judge White stated that, since the last court appearance regarding the case on August 11, Ms. Benoit has failed to comply with any court orders. Tiffany Susz, representing the child abduction unit, stated that her unit reached out to Benoit in search of her whereabouts, but received no response. Ms. Susz also stated that the unit told Benoit that they could assist with her return and provide her and the children with safe housing, but they still never received any response from Benoit.
Judge White stated that all orders remain in effect and emphasized that, until all parties are present, no trial can occur. Judge White also stated that she is more than willing to move other trials in order to accommodate this trial. Court will resume at 9 am this Thursday.