Judge rejects Charlie White’s claim of ineffective counsel

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Former Secretary of State Charlie White has been ordered to begin serving his sentence for violating Indiana’s election law after his petition for post-conviction relief was denied.

White claimed his counsel, former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, provided ineffective assistance and did not present material facts to the jury. Hamilton Superior Court Judge Daniel Pfleging rejected all of White’s arguments and granted the state’s motion for execution of sentence.

The judge issued an order Dec. 23 that White begin serving his sentence of one year of home detention on Jan. 10, 2014. White was convicted of six criminal counts, all Class D felonies, including voter fraud and providing a false address on his voter registration form.

White’s attorney, Andrea Ciobanu, indicated they would be appealing Pfleging’s ruling.   

“Mr. White had to request a David Hatton Proceeding because his appellate counsel did not believe the issues were properly preserved in order to pursue a direct appeal,” Ciobanu stated. “Now that the record was supplemented through our work during the PCR proceedings, Mr. White is now able to pursue his direct appeal and intends to do so, focusing on the legal factors of residency, as outlined in Indiana Code 3-5-5.”  

The court showed little patience for White’s contention that Brizzi’s decision not to call any witnesses or present evidence was detrimental to his defense.

Pfleging found each of the witnesses White wanted to testify, including his wife, Michelle, and ex-wife, Nicole, had significant problems with their statements that created credibility problems which would have caused more harm than good during trial.

“The testimony of Petitioner’s own witnesses underscored and amplified the very difficult situation in which Attorney Brizzi found himself at trial,” Pfleging wrote. “Each witness’s testimony was fraught with pitfalls that ultimately could have proven disastrous for the defendant, from the multiple statements made under oath by defendant-petitioner’s wife and former wife to the dubious credibility of his ‘expert’ witness. Michelle White, in and of herself, could well have proved to be a highly damaging witness against her own husband had she taken the stand and perjured herself.”



  • No prison time
    The prior comment about "prison time" is incorrect, as White was sentenced to home detention, community service, and a fine, there was no jail time. And it was not "politically motivated either", about which I have previously written. Two Republican judges in a Republican county, and a Grand Jury and trial jury, have all held against White. He simply cannot accept responsibility for his acts.
  • disagree, newsworthy topic
    The prosecution of white was politically motivated, sure, but that is sauce for the goose and the gander alike. There is no bias in covering this story and the idea that this newspaper's coverage of his saga is the proximate cause of his incarceration is silly. The fellow was an elected official hence very newsworthy and so are his travails. The judge made a sound decision in this case and the article covers it fairly. Brizzi's defense was plenty competent. White worsens his own situation by ringing the bell all over again.
  • No Mens Rea
    I know Charlie and do not believe he had mens rea to commit a felony violation of the election laws. Were it not for the Indianapolis Star's attempt to boost its circulation by its vendetta against him, this would have been dropped long ago. While his actions were, no doubt, ill-advised and foolish, there is no reason for him to be a felon and do prison time.

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