Monday, February 25, 2013

Charlie White, Yet Again

Long-time readers of this blog will recall a number of posts from the beginning of the Charlie White saga, but not in the last year.

To refresh the memory, Charlie White, then a Fishers Town Councilman, was in 2010 the GOP nominee for Indiana Secretary of State.  But in September 2010, a certain attorney/blogger/activist (me) held a news conference on the steps of the Fishers Town Hall revealing that Mr. White did not live where he was registered to vote, and that his new residence was ... oops... outside of his Fishers council district.

White promptly resigned from the Town Council, claiming he had made a "few mistakes", and that he would learn from those mistakes, at least tacitly admitting that the "residential boo-boo" was correct.   White's Democratic opponent Vop Osili (now a member of the Indianapolis City-County Council) did his best to make political hay out of this, but to no avail, White was elected Secretary of State by a large margin.

But this was not the end.  There were election contests and political maneuvering galore.  Then a bomb dropped.  The Hamilton County Prosecutor asked for, and got, two special prosecutors appointed to investigate White.  After White and his family testified before a Grand Jury, he was indicted on seven felony counts, from voter registration fraud, to voting in the wrong precinct, to perjury, to mortgage fraud.

At the end of January and beginning of February 2012, White went to trial in Hamilton County.  A jury of his peers found him guilty on 6 of 7 counts, and under Indiana law, he was no longer Secretary of State.  White filed an appeal, but oddly, a few months ago he dropped his appeal, claiming he would file a "post conviction relief" motion in the trial court, before Judge Steve Nation, who heard the original case.  Supposedly, White would claim "ineffective assistance of counsel" against his former friend, former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, who used the common defense tactic of not putting on witnesses, in order to challenge the sufficiency of the State's case.  Or perhaps, just maybe, Brizzi knew something we don't about what that "evidence" would be, and could not ethically put it forward.

But, as of right now, White has never filed that motion.  So the special prosecutors filed a Motion to compel White to begin serving his sentence, which was mainly home detention and a fine.  White's new lawyer promptly sought to depose several people, including a couple of real estate people, White's ex-wife's current husband, and the State Police detective who worked on the case.  The prosecutors have opposed those depositions.

Judge Nation is going to have to sort all of that out.  But why, would you ask, is White fighting a home detention sentence, when he could have gotten jail time?  That is a pretty easy answer.  White is an attorney, and it is pretty unlikely that the Indiana Supreme Court would allow him to practice as a convicted felon.  White's law license is currently suspended.  White has to defeat those felony charges, or he may never practice law again.

White was investigated, tried, and convicted in a Republican county where he was the Republican chairman, before two juries who presumably would lean in his direction politically, and tried and sentenced by a Republican judge who was a former prosecutor.  So did White get a fair shake?  Absolutely.  But we will have to see what the latest legal proceedings will bring.  A scheduling conference is currently set for February 27th, so stay tuned.  The saga continues.
UPDATE 3/7/13:  Judge Nation has set a formal hearing on post-conviction relief for August 15, 2013.  This is despite the fact that the docket does not show that White's attorney has yet filed a motion for post-conviction relief.  The saga continues.