The campaign manager of one candidate running for the vacant seat on the Third Circuit Court of Appeal is claiming records of an old arrest on a misdemeanor charge are being circulated as a political attack.
“I’ve already had calls from three media outlets about this,” said Marie Centanni, campaign manager for Lafayette-based lawyer Candyce Perret.
Perret, along with Lafayette lawyer Vanessa Anseman and former 15th Judicial District Judge Susan Theall, will face off in an election on March 25 to fill the seat vacated by Judge Jimmy Genovese when he was elected to the state Supreme Court.
According to an offense report filed in June 2004, Candyce Catherine Perret (then Gagnard) told Walton County, Florida, deputies sent to arrest her on a charge of indecent exposure that she was an assistant district attorney and that she had previously handled civil cases for false arrest.
“You better have all your t’s crossed and your i’s dotted because I am an assistant district attorney and I also do civil litigation for false arrest,” Perret told the arresting deputy, according to the narrative of the offense report.
Although she served as a city prosecutor in Marksville, Perret never has been an assistant district attorney, according to her LinkedIn profile. Centanni referenced the profile when asked for more detail on Perret’s background. She said Perret had never worked with a district attorney’s office and that the offense report was incorrect.
“She never provided that information,” Centanni said.
According to Dane Ciolino, a law professor at Loyola University in New Orleans, that misconduct, if proven, could subject Perret to disciplinary action.
“Such a statement (that Perret was an assistant district attorney), if false, would violate Louisiana Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4(c), which prohibits a lawyer from engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation,” Ciolino said in an email Thursday afternoon.
“Misconduct” is broadly used in the rules, and could result in anything from a reprimand to disbarment, depending on the severity of the offense.
Centanni, however, said there was no misconduct.
The offense report covers two incidents, first when deputies were called out because of a noise complaint in Seaside, Florida, on June 9, 2004, and the second when deputies arrived to serve an arrest warrant on Perret on June 11, 2004.
In the narrative for the first incident, security guards in Seaside called deputies after hearing music on the beach and investigating. In the report officers stated that three people — two men and a woman — were present. They also noticed glass bottles and wine glasses on the beach with the group’s towels, and that the woman was naked. Deputies wrote that they arrived to find a large white male, later identified only as Judge Barron, “in the face” of one of the guards, yelling at him and threatening him.
The other people had left the scene, so deputies went to the recently purchased beach house of John Houghtaling II, Perret’s fiance according to the report, who guards had said was present with Perret at the beach. Houghtaling and Perret both told the deputies they needed a search warrant to be on the property, even though they were investigating a complaint.
Deputies returned two days later with a warrant for Perret’s arrest. Again Houghtaling and Barron confronted the deputies until Houghtaling was shown a copy of the arrest warrant. It was as Perret was leaving the house that the report stated she made the statements about her position and levelled the not-so-subtle threat of legal action.
“Much of the information in the report was wrong,” Centanni said.
When asked what, other than the claim that she was an assistant district attorney, was incorrect, Centanni said those questions should be asked of Perret directly. As of deadline Thursday, Perret was not available to answer any questions.
Perret and Anseman have been under fire from Lafayette media in recent days. The Independent, a monthly magazine with a regularly updated online presence, has reported that Anseman had her law license reinstated the day she qualified to run for the 3rd Circuit seat, but may not have the required 10 years of legal practice required for the position. The magazine also published a story on Perret’s ties to Louisiana Specialty Institute, owned by her husband Hunter Perret, and questions over medical billing by the company.