A criminal contempt trial that could land Distillers founder Brody Dalle in jail amid her ongoing custody war with ex-husband Josh Homme kicked off in Los Angeles Friday, the same day the judge overseeing the case dismissed the pending restraining order petitions filed against Homme on behalf of the former couple’s two young sons.
Dalle, 42, has pleaded not guilty to charges she “repeatedly refused” to deliver the boys for Homme’s allotted custody time in August and September. She also denies “alienating” the kids from the Queens of the Stone Age frontman, 48, by failing to facilitate any contact.
Shortly before Homme was called as the first witness Friday, Judge Lawrence Riff shot down the stay-away orders linked to the boys on the grounds that Dalle sought them without proper court authorization. The petitions previously failed to win emergency approval.
In his live testimony, Homme said Dalle never handed the boys over on Aug. 27 or Sept. 3 despite court orders directing her to do so. The rocker conceded his relationship with the ex-couple’s 15-year-old daughter has “had its ups and downs” in recent months — she was granted a restraining order against him Sept. 7 — but he claimed his custodial time with his boys over the summer was positive.
“They’re my sons. I take them places. We play. I take them to the hardware store, go surfing, go to the beach. We make dinner together. It’s been good,” he said during questioning by his lawyer Glen Jonas.
Dalle’s lawyers argued Friday that their client tried to convince the older son to return to Homme’s home on Sept. 3, but the child refused.
Attorney Lisa Helfend Meyer told the court she planned to cross-examine Homme on topics including his alleged heavy drinking and abusive behavior around the kids, but Judge Riff shut her down. He said Dalle was welcome to testify in her own defense and offer evidence that the 10-year-old son didn’t want to see his dad, but until she did that, he wasn’t sure testimony about Homme’s disputed behavior was relevant to the contempt case.
Judge Riff further said he wasn’t willing to let the kids testify in their mom’s defense until Dalle’s lawyers laid more foundation. “What I don’t want to do is put these kids on [the stand] on these very volatile, difficult topics to find out that none of it has any legal relevance,” he said. The judge said the issue of contempt centered on the “very narrow” question of whether Dalle knew there was a court order and then violated it.
“I’m not going to permit questions as to why the kids did not want to see their father until there is some evidence in the record that they did not want to see their father, and mother tried to comply with the order,” Judge Riff said.
“This is not a custody hearing. This is not a restraining order hearing. This is a contempt hearing,” Jonas added, arguing that if Dalle disagreed with the court’s ruling ordering her to return the boys to Homme on Sept. 3, she should have appealed it.
Jonas said the court previously considered the bulk of Dalle’s domestic violence allegations and decided September 1st that the proper response wasn’t to deprive Homme of custodial time but to add the temporary requirement that one or both of Homme’s parents be with him while he cared for the kids.
Jonas also revealed in court Friday that while Homme recently resumed monitored visitation with his youngest son, he still hasn’t seen the older son in person since late August.
Dalle’s trial is scheduled to resume next week.