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State Supreme Court hears arguments in White case

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Indiana Supreme Court justices peppered attorneys with questions Wednesday during arguments to determine whether ousted Secretary of State Charlie White was ever a legal candidate for the office, and who gets to appoint his successor.

White, a Republican, was removed from office following his Feb. 4 conviction on voter fraud and other charges. Democrats contend the conviction proves White ineligible to run for office and that state law requires a winner whose candidacy is declared invalid be replaced with the second-place finisher — in this case, Democratic runner-up Vop Osili.

A Marion County judge agreed and in December ordered the Indiana Recount Commission to certify Osili as the winner of the November 2010 secretary of state election.

But the state attorney general's office, which appealed to the Supreme Court on the commission's behalf, argued the state constitution calls for Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels to appoint successors in cases of removal from office due to conviction.

Justice Brent Dickson on Wednesday questioned why state law would seem to conflict with the constitution.

"Why wouldn't that constitutional provision trump all?" he asked.

Justice Dickson and Justice Frank Sullivan asked the most questions, hammering both sides about details of voter registration law and what constitutes residency. They and other justices posed complex hypothetical questions about requirements for candidacy and how state law might affect ordinary voters.

White's voter fraud conviction came after he listed his ex-wife's address instead of his new condo on his 2010 voter registration form, when he already was claiming the condo as his home on other legal documents. Prosecutors said he wanted to avoid giving up a town council salary after moving out of the district he was elected to represent.

State attorney Steve Creason argued Wednesday that being registered to vote is the only legal requirement to run for secretary of state, and the law doesn't say a candidate must be legally registered in the precinct where he or she lives.

Democratic attorney Karen Celestino-Horseman countered that White's conviction was for the same issue the recount commission must consider in deciding a candidate's eligibility.

"You can be registered to vote, but you have to be legally registered to vote," she said. "Failure to register properly is more than just a technicality."

Creason also argued Democrats legally should have challenged White's candidacy before the November election instead of waiting until he had won. Celestino-Horseman countered that was impossible because the violation didn't come to light until after pre-election challenge deadline had passed.

There is no timetable for the justices' ruling, but they likely will rule before Chief Justice Randall Shepard retires in March.

Daniels has named White's chief deputy, Jerry Bonnet, interim secretary of state, but he isn't expected to make a permanent appointment until the Supreme Court rules.

White was sentenced Feb. 23 to one year of home detention. He plans to appeal his convictions. If a higher court reverses or vacates his convictions on six felony charges, he could be reinstated as secretary of state.

"He's out, but not permanently," said his attorney, David Brooks.

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  1. Can your dog sign a marriage license or personally state that he wishes to join you in a legal union? If not then no, you cannot marry him. When you teach him to read, write, and speak a discernible language, then maybe you'll have a reasonable argument. Thanks for playing!

  2. Look no further than Mike Rowe, the former host of dirty jobs, who was also a classically trained singer.

  3. Current law states income taxes are paid to the county of residence not county of income source. The most likely scenario would be some alteration of the income tax distribution formula so money earned in Marion co. would go to Marion Co by residents of other counties would partially be distributed to Marion co. as opposed to now where the entirety is held by the resident's county.

  4. This is more same-old, same-old from a new generation of non-progressive 'progressives and fear mongers. One only needs to look at the economic havoc being experienced in California to understand the effect of drought on economies and people's lives. The same mindset in California turned a blind eye to the growth of population and water needs in California, defeating proposal after proposal to build reservoirs, improve water storage and delivery infrastructure...and the price now being paid for putting the demands of a raucous minority ahead of the needs of many. Some people never, never learn..

  5. I wonder if I can marry him too? Considering we are both males, wouldn't that be a same sex marriage as well? If they don't honor it, I'll scream discrimination just like all these people have....

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