The fight over Covington doctor Wayne Breen’s estate and the circumstances of his death has grown so entangled that now even some of the attorneys have attorneys.
Two of the many lawyers involved in the case were the subject of a hearing Wednesday on whether they could continue to represent Breen’s adult children in a wrongful-death suit against his ex-wife, Kacie Breen.
Her lawyer, Richard Ducote, wanted them disqualified because he said he might end up calling them as witnesses, but state Judge August Hand dismissed Ducote’s motion, calling it premature given that the case has hardly gotten started yet.
The two lawyers, Mark Mansfield and Frank Tranchina, represented Wayne Breen in a 2012 domestic violence case. Kacie Breen had accused her husband of abusing her young son, and Ducote said Mansfield and Tranchina might be called later to help establish a pattern of rage and abusive behavior on Wayne Breen’s part.
That claim is central to Kacie Breen’s defense in the wrongful-death suit — that she feared for her life when she fired the two shots that killed her husband.
The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, which after a months-long investigation refused to arrest or bring charges against Kacie Breen, has already come down on her side.
But Alex Peragine, who represented Mansfield and Tranchina in court Wednesday, argued that any information the pair might provide could come from other sources and that their testimony would not be necessary.
“We don’t know how the case will play out yet,” Peragine told Hand. “The motion is not valid and not well founded.”
Hand agreed, saying that while it may become necessary to call Mansfield and Tranchina as witnesses later, Ducote was “putting the cart before the horse” by filing his motion so early in the case.
Ducote also argued for sanctions against René Frederick, the lawyer who filed the initial petition for damages in a wrongful death on behalf of Breen’s son Sean.
Ducote acknowledged that the motion for sanctions was “earlier than normal,” but he said some of the allegations contained in the petition Frederick filed had no foundation in evidence, including that Kacie Breen murdered her husband, committed aggravated battery and showed evidence of premeditation.
The judge dismissed Ducote’s motion out of hand.
“Any issue of sanctions is premature, at least at this point,” he said.
Ducote conceded that sanctions might be better discussed after his motion for dismissal is heard; a hearing on it is scheduled for Nov. 18. But Hand hinted that there will probably not be a quick resolution coming in case.
“I don’t see this case being fast-tracked,” he said to chuckles from the lawyers. There is “no possible way” it goes to trial before 2016, he said.
Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter, @faimon.