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 presented a "deficient and unreasonable" defense 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.
White isn't the first person to accuse Brizzi of poor representation. In May, former Hancock County coroner Tamara Vangundy filed a legal malpractice suit against the former Marion County prosecutor.
Vangundy said she paid Brizzi for negligent legal advice on a plea deal in a drunken-driving and official-misconduct case that ended her career as an elected official