Defense attorney Carl Brizzi testified this morning that allowing former Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White to take the stand in his 2012 theft and voter fraud trial “would have been a disaster.” Brizzi had represented White in that case. White is now trying to erase his felony convictions for theft and voter fraud as he faces a one-year, home-detention sentence. White’s new attorney, Andrea Ciobanu, is trying to show that Brizzi provided incompetent counsel. This morning, she hammered Brizzi over why he didn’t allow anyone to testify in White’s defense. Brizzi, a former Marion County prosecutor, said White was tough to control during the proceedings in early 2012 and he believed White’s testimony would work against him. “It was all I could do to just keep him … to just maintain composure,” Brizzi said. As an example of White’s behavior, Brizzi described a newspaper interview he let White do as a “disaster.” Brizzi said if White had testified, deliberations would have been 30 minutes.
In March, White filed a 79-page petition asking the court to vacate six felony convictions. In a separate civil action, he has sued Brizzi, alleging legal malpractice and other professional malfeasance in the handling of his criminal case, which resulted in White being forced to resign his secretary of state office last February.
Ciobanu has characterized Brizzi as erratic and has said he took a sudden departure from an expected defense that would prove White did not break any laws regarding his residency while he served on the Fishers Town Council.
White has claimed that he lived at the home of his ex-wife, Nicole Mills, on the east side of Fishers, but prosecutors said he actually lived in a townhouse on the opposite side of Fishers with his then-fiancee, Michelle. The townhouse was outside his council district, but he continued to take his council salary and vote in the precinct of his former residence.
Brizzi said today that Michelle’s testimony would have contradicted Nicole’s if they were both put on the stand. He pointed to a strategy-changing moment during a practice session where Michelle let it slip that “Charlie didn’t live” at Nicole’s Broad Leaf address in the district he was registered to vote in.