Defrocked Secretary of State Charlie White has sued Carl Brizzi, the former Marion County prosecutor who represented White during a criminal case that led to his removal from office. White's lawsuit makes a claim of legal malpractice.
White hired Brizzi in August 2011 to represent him in his criminal trial in Hamilton County, where he was convicted in February 2012 of six of seven charges, including false registration, voting in another precinct and theft. The jury acquitted him of fraud on a financial institution. White subsequently was removed from office.
A 31-page complaint filed last week in Marion Superior Court claims Brizzi was ignorant of several areas of law and failed to mount a defense. The suit also claims Brizzi and his mother were experiencing health problems that delayed the trial, but he didn’t inform White.
Brizzi did not return a telephone message seeking comment.
The complaint filed by attorney Andrea L. Ciobanu mirrors many of those made in White’s petition for post-conviction relief. The complaint alleges legal malpractice, breach of contract, neglect or reckless infliction of emotional distress, constructive fraud, fraud and negligence.
According to the complaint, Brizzi pursued a jury-nullification strategy and chose not to present a defense without White’s blessing.
“It does not meet the professional standard of care to wait until the night before and the day of the close of the state of Indiana’s case to become frantic and aggressive with the plaintiff in front of two other witnesses,” about not putting on evidence, the complaint alleges.
“Several of (White’s) witnesses were waiting to testify at the courthouse or a nearby vicinity, and (Brizzi) abruptly and mid-trial decided ‘not to put on a case’ even though Brizzi was paid in full to put on a trial,” the complaint asserts. “And he always led (White) to believe, up to that point, that he would put on a case.”
The suit seeks award of damages for those equal to White’s claim of harm to reputation, loss of employment, mental anguish, and attorney fees and costs for his post-conviction action and his disciplinary action, in which his license to practice law was suspended.
Ciobanu’s complaint also alleges, “Brizzi engaged in irrational action such as slamming doors, cursing and yelling at lay persons in the judicial center conference room, making fantastic boasts as well as using degrading language to an already-exhausted (White) to wear him down.”
The malpractice claim is the second that a former central Indiana officeholder has brought against Brizzi. Former Hancock County Coroner Tamara Vangundy sued Brizzi in May, claiming his faulty legal advice cost her an opportunity to seek re-election after she pleaded guilty to a felony count of official misconduct.