Mayor Cantrell Could Face Uncomfortable Questions in Anne Breaud Case

Photo Credit: Jenn Bentley

Mayor LaToya Cantrell was quite full of herself when she filed a temporary protective order recently against New Orleans realtor Anne Breaud.  “I’ll show her,” Cantrell could have whispered to herself. 

From the balcony of her family’s apartment in the Pontalba, Breaud took the memorable photo of Cantrell enjoying a leisurely drink and meal on a nearby French Quarter balcony with Jeffrey Vappie, a member of her security team. By the expression on both their faces, one might assume their relationship is beyond professional. Once the photo surfaced in public, Cantrell quickly cried foul. She accused Breaud of stalking as well as jeopardizing the safety of Cantrell and her family. 

Breaud’s photo had somehow ended up in the hands of the Metropolitan Crime Commission’s Raphael Goyeneche. To the clear chagrin of her honor, the image went viral. Vappie was soon removed from the mayor’s security detail and NOPD Superintendent Anne Kirkpatrick agreed to launch an investigation.  

In a court hearing on Monday, May 19, Cantrell sought to make the temporary protective order permanent and hired defense attorney Eddie Castaing to present her argument. Since Castaing was new to the case, he asked for a continuance until June 18, which the judge granted.  

According to Breaud’s lawyer Justin Schmidt, Castaing said Cantrell would accept a consent judgment and a pledge from Breaud to keep her distance from the mayor. Schmidt refused to accept those terms and has vowed to fight back. 

Several legal experts believe that Schmidt is now in the driver’s seat and in a unique position to force Cantrell to substantiate her claims and pay Breaud’s costs including Schmidt’s legal fees.

During the next few weeks Schmidt will have the opportunity to undertake discovery in the case – i.e. present to Cantrell a series of questions she must answer in writing that are relevant to the lawsuit and not privileged. Castaing may present questions for Breaud as well. 

 On June 18th, Schmidt will then take the opportunity to call Cantrell to the witness stand to answer those questions and others under oath in greater detail. Cantrell should not want to commit the crime of perjury by lying under oath.  

What kinds of questions could Schmidt ask Cantrell?  The possibilities are almost endless. Schmidt could probe the delicate nature of the Cantrell/Vappie relationship with a series of questions that would surely make her uncomfortable. He’ll press Cantrell about Vappie’s precise role that evening – executive security or special friend – and who else might have witnessed their encounter. Schmidt could push Cantrell to admit she never saw Breaud that evening or at any other time outside the courtroom. Schmidt might force Cantrell to acknowledge that when she first ran for office, Cantrell accepted the fact that there would be limitations to her privacy, especially out of doors.  

Finally, Schmidt could demand to know what incident -if any- led her to believe her life is in danger because of her position. He could ask Cantrell to identify other real threats to her safety that she has encountered, where she is currently living, what type of security she has at her home.  Schmidt might even request Cantrell produce any and all other photos of her she considers compromising. He’ll also want to learn how all of Breaud’s personal information, which is not public record, fell into the mayor’s hands. 

Eddie Castaing will be pushing back hard against these kinds of questions. Yet, since it was Cantrell that claimed Breaud -whom she never saw – was stalking her and creating security issues, Cantrell will not be able to dodge most of these questions.The June 18th court hearing will be the hottest ticket in town that week. Since the media was banned from the May 19th hearing, let’s hope the judge opens the courtroom this time for everyone to attend.  After all, the public has the right to know the truth.   

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