Legal Issues and Attorneys and Lawsuits and Law

Ex-Indiana official questions Brizzi's health

October 21, 2013

Indiana's former elections chief raised questions about his attorney's health during his 2012 voter fraud trial and said he thought it was "a joke" that his defense strategy was to call no witnesses.

Charlie White testified Monday in a Hamilton County court that attorney Carl Brizzi appeared exhausted and "worn down," and was taking medication during the trial.

"Every night he complained he couldn't sleep," White said.

White was ousted as secretary of state in February 2012 after being convicted of voter fraud and other felonies. The charges stemmed from his use of his ex-wife's home in Fishers as his voting address in 2010 while serving on the Fishers 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. He filed a separate civil lawsuit in July accusing Brizzi of legal malpractice and other professional misconduct.

Brizzi testified last week that White was unpredictable and that having him testify would have been a disaster.

White and his wife, Michelle White, on Monday disputed Brizzi's contention that their testimony would have contradicted each other if they'd testified. Brizzi said last week that when he was preparing Michelle White to testify, she stated that White hadn't lived at his ex-wife's address.

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

White and Ciobanu spent part of Monday trying to introduce bills from a gym White belonged to. The bills weren't used as evidence in his trial, but they argued they offered proof that White was showering there while living at his ex-wife's house.

Special Prosecutor Dan Sigler opposed the move.

"He's just trying to throw in the record everything he can about his opinion of things," Sigler said.

He noted that White had fired his previous lawyer, Dennis Zahn, and questioned why he didn't do the same with Brizzi.

"You fired one lawyer, you could fire another, couldn't you?" Sigler asked.

White said he didn't have concerns with Brizzi, a former Marion County prosecutor, until shortly before the trial started.

"I thought he was doing a pretty good job up until the trial," White said.

Both sides have 15 days to submit additional evidence to Judge Daniel Pfleging.

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