Ind. ex-elections chief wants convictions tossed

By The Associated Press

NOBLESVILLE — Indiana’s former elections chief was difficult to control and not allowed to take the stand at his 2012 voter fraud trial because he was a loose cannon, the attorney who defended him testified Tuesday.

Carl Brizzi explained his defense strategy during a Hamilton County court hearing on ex-Secretary of State Charlie White’s petition to have his convictions overturned.

White was sentenced to a year of home detention and was removed from office in February 2012 after a jury convicted him of voter fraud and other felony charges. The case stemmed from his use of his ex-wife’s home in Fishers as his voting address in 2010 while serving on the Indianapolis suburb’s town council and running for secretary of state.

Prosecutors said White lived in a townhouse outside his council district with his then-fiancee but continued to receive his council salary and vote in his old precinct.

White filed a 79-page petition in March asking the court to vacate the six felony convictions, saying Brizzi provided incompetent counsel by failing to call any witnesses during the trial. White filed a separate civil lawsuit in July accusing Brizzi of legal malpractice and other professional misconduct.

Brizzi testified Tuesday in a Hamilton County court that he couldn’t control White and that a media interview his then-client gave was “a disaster.” He cited a rambling statement White made during his sentencing hearing as a prime example.

“It was all I could do to just keep him ... to just maintain composure,” Brizzi said.

Brizzi said he didn’t prepare White to testify because when he was preparing his second wife, Michelle, she stated that White hadn’t lived at his ex-wife’s address.

He said Michelle White’s testimony would have contradicted that of White’s ex-wife if both were both were put on the stand. Allowing Charlie White to testify “would have been a disaster,” he said.

When asked why he didn’t spend more time interviewing witnesses before the trial, Brizzi said he’s only lost one jury trial in his career.

“Judge, my witnesses are always prepared,” he said.

White’s new attorney, Andrea Ciobanu, argued that Brizzi was erratic and deviated from his planned defense.




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