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Justices rule Charlie White was eligible for office

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Refusing to go against the will of Indiana voters, the state’s highest court has held that Charlie White was eligible to run for secretary of state and assume that office after being elected in 2010.

The justices on Thursday upheld their practice of not “judicially disenfranchising” voters, reversing the decision by Marion Circuit Judge Lou Rosenberg which had held that Charlie White was not eligible to run as a candidate for secretary of state as a result of being improperly registered to vote.

“It is likely that the average voter was aware that there were concerns about White‘s voter registration history at the time of the election,” the opinion says, “but we will not, on the basis of the present petition, judicially disenfranchise voters who went to the polls aware of what were at that moment only allegations.”

While the ruling in Charlie White, et. al. v. Indiana Democratic Party, through its Chairman , Daniel J. Parker, No. 49S00-1202-MI-73 impacts statutory interpretation for candidates and elected office holders, the ruling is essentially moot as it applies to the former secretary of state in this case because he has already been removed from office on different grounds.

The Indiana Democratic Party challenged White’s eligibility as a candidate after the November 2010 general election, saying that he was registered to vote at his ex-wife’s home where he didn’t reside and wasn’t properly registered to be a candidate for that election. The Indiana Recount Commission decided last summer White was eligible and could hold the office. But on judicial review, Rosenberg ruled in December 2011 that White wasn’t eligible and the second-highest vote getter should take the office.

Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard wrote the 20-page opinion, finding the state Democratic Party’s post-election challenge was untimely and they should have challenged the voter registration matter before the election.

The Democratic Party didn’t file a pre-election challenge as they could have within 74 days of the general election pursuant to Indiana Code 3-8-8-1 to -8, and the court found the party should have been more diligent to comply with that timeline in filing an election challenge.

The justices relied on Burke v. Bennett, 907 N.E.2d 529 (Ind. 2009) in balancing the line between the disqualification provision in post-election contests and impeding the pre-election application of state law in challenging a person’s qualifications to be a candidate. The specific statutory requirements at issue in this case have present tense language and refer to those who are currently candidates or remain candidates for office, the justices determined.

“Our conclusion is that the Code places a burden on political campaigns to investigate and vet their opposition before the pre-election time limitations expire, but that is better than the alternative: that a challenger might ignore a known (or knowable) disqualification challenge before the election, wait to see who won at the polls, and then seek to set aside the results of the democratic process,” Shepard wrote. “Such a result is inconsistent with free elections and respect for voters’ expressed preferences.”

Justice Brent Dickson concurred in result, but wrote separately to say that he agreed with the election contest being dismissed because he sees the Legislature’s attempt to impose additional eligibility qualifications on candidates as unconstitutional and not a basis to contest someone’s eligibility for office.

This appeal does not involve any aspect of a separate criminal case against White, which led to his being convicted in February of six felonies including voter fraud and his receiving a one-year sentence of home detention and being removed from office. The governor appointed Jerry Bonnet as the interim replacement, and following the court’s ruling, Daniels said he will move forward with choosing a permanent successor.

 

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  1. Falk said “At this point, at this minute, we’ll savor this particular victory.” “It certainly is a historic week on this front,” Cockrum said. “What a delight ... “Happy Independence Day to the women of the state of Indiana,” WOW. So we broke with England for the right to "off" our preborn progeny at will, and allow the processing plant doing the dirty deeds (dirt cheap) to profit on the marketing of those "products of conception." I was completely maleducated on our nation's founding, it would seem. (But I know the ACLU is hard at work to remedy that, too.)

  2. congratulations on such balanced journalism; I also love how fetus disposal affects women's health protection, as covered by Roe...

  3. It truly sickens me every time a case is compared to mine. The Indiana Supreme Court upheld my convictions based on a finding of “hidden threats.” The term “hidden threat” never appeared until the opinion in Brewington so I had no way of knowing I was on trial for making hidden threats because Dearborn County Prosecutor F Aaron Negangard argued the First Amendment didn't protect lies. Negangard convened a grand jury to investigate me for making “over the top” and “unsubstantiated” statements about court officials, not hidden threats of violence. My indictments and convictions were so vague, the Indiana Court of Appeals made no mention of hidden threats when they upheld my convictions. Despite my public defender’s closing arguments stating he was unsure of exactly what conduct the prosecution deemed to be unlawful, Rush found that my lawyer’s trial strategy waived my right to the fundamental error of being tried for criminal defamation because my lawyer employed a strategy that attempted to take advantage of Negangard's unconstitutional criminal defamation prosecution against me. Rush’s opinion stated the prosecution argued two grounds for conviction one constitutional and one not, however the constitutional true threat “argument” consistently of only a blanket reading of subsection 1 of the intimidation statute during closing arguments, making it impossible to build any kind of defense. Of course intent was impossible for my attorney to argue because my attorney, Rush County Chief Public Defender Bryan Barrett refused to meet with me prior to trial. The record is littered with examples of where I made my concerns known to the trial judge that I didn’t know the charges against me, I did not have access to evidence, all while my public defender refused to meet with me. Special Judge Brian Hill, from Rush Superior Court, refused to address the issue with my public defender and marched me to trial without access to evidence or an understanding of the indictments against me. Just recently the Indiana Public Access Counselor found that four over four years Judge Hill has erroneously denied access to the grand jury audio from my case, the most likely reason being the transcription of the grand jury proceedings omitted portions of the official audio record. The bottom line is any intimidation case involves an action or statement that is debatably a threat of physical violence. There were no such statements in my case. The Indiana Supreme Court took partial statements I made over a period of 41 months and literally connected them with dots… to give the appearance that the statements were made within the same timeframe and then claimed a person similarly situated would find the statements intimidating while intentionally leaving out surrounding contextual factors. Even holding the similarly situated test was to be used in my case, the prosecution argued that the only intent of my public writings was to subject the “victims” to ridicule and hatred so a similarly situated jury instruction wouldn't even have applied in my case. Chief Justice Rush wrote the opinion while Rush continued to sit on a committee with one of the alleged victims in my trial and one of the judges in my divorce, just as she'd done for the previous 7+ years. All of this information, including the recent PAC opinion against the Dearborn Superior Court II can be found on my blog www.danbrewington.blogspot.com.

  4. On a related note, I offered the ICLU my cases against the BLE repeatedly, and sought their amici aid repeatedly as well. Crickets. Usually not even a response. I am guessing they do not do allegations of anti-Christian bias? No matter how glaring? I have posted on other links the amicus brief that did get filed (search this ezine, e.g., Kansas attorney), read the Thomas More Society brief to note what the ACLU ran from like vampires from garlic. An Examiner pledged to advance diversity and inclusion came right out on the record and demanded that I choose Man's law or God's law. I wonder, had I been asked to swear off Allah ... what result then, ICLU? Had I been found of bad character and fitness for advocating sexual deviance, what result then ICLU? Had I been lifetime banned for posting left of center statements denigrating the US Constitution, what result ICLU? Hey, we all know don't we? Rather Biased.

  5. It was mentioned in the article that there have been numerous CLE events to train attorneys on e-filing. I would like someone to provide a list of those events, because I have not seen any such events in east central Indiana, and since Hamilton County is one of the counties where e-filing is mandatory, one would expect some instruction in this area. Come on, people, give some instruction, not just applause!

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