Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Charlie White Hits Home Run At Commission Hearing; Democrats' Circumstantial Evidence Only Case Blown Out of Water by Direct Testimony of Witnesses

I took off today to watch the entire Charlie White hearing before the Recount Commission.
Secretary of State Charlie White

I've been watching a lot of baseball lately, so let me use a baseball analogy.  Today's Commission hearing on Charlie White's eligibility to be elected Secretary of State was like the pitcher coming to the plate in a National League Baseball game.  You see the pitcher take a couple embarrassingly awkward swings on the on deck circle.  You check the stats and see he hasn't had a hit all season.  Everone knows the pitcher won't get a hit and most likely will strike out.  The pitcher swings and to nearly everyone's surprise, makes solid contact.  The ball goes sailing out to center field, and keeps going and going until it clears the fence. 

Charlie White today was that pitcher taking a turn at the plate.  Although everyone had written his political obituary, today he hit a homerun, destroying the Democrats' case against him.  I also have to wonder, in light of today's testimony from White and his witnesses, how the special prosecutor can continue to maintain the felony criminal charges against him.  There is much, much more than reasonable doubt raised at the hearing, there is in fact the probability that White did nothing at all wrong.

Let's examine the proceedings.  The lead counsel for the Democrats was Karen Celestino-Horseman, a former Barnes and Thornburg attorney and former City-County Councilor.  Celestino-Horseman did the best she could (albeit her arrogant tone is not recommended for a trial attorney), but in her defense she didn't have a strong case to argue.

Karen Celestino-Horseman
argued for the Democrats
The Democrats had claimed White was living at the condo he had purchased, and not with the ex-wife and her new husband at their house on Broad Leaf. But the Democrats had no evidence to introduce except some documents with the condo address, circumstantial evidence which suggested White might have been living at the newly-purchased condo. But Charlie White's attorney Jim Bopp had his own set documents which suggested during the time in question that White's residence was at the Broad Leaf house.  But unlike Celestine-Horseman, Bopp did not rest his case on shaky circumstantial evidence.  Bopp had direct evidence in the form of witnesses who knew first hand where White was residing.  

Charlie White did not take the 5th.  He testified that he was in fact residing at the Broad Leaf house while traveling around the state, the very house where he was registered to vote at the time in question.  White said the arrangement was so he could spend more time with his son and because his fiance did not want to live together before marriage.  In other words, White is saying he was registered exactly where he should have been registered.

Charlie White's wife, Michelle, who is the target of a grand jury investigation for testimony she gave on behalf of her husband, also waived the 5th.  She confirmed that White was residing at the Broad Leaf house and not the condo.  Charlie White's ex-wife also testified that he was living at the Broad Leaf house and not the condo. The ex-wife's new husband was also going to confirm that White was living at their house on Broad Leaf, but Bopp didn't call him undoubtedly realizing he had already won the case.

It shoudl be emphasized that White's prosecutors never called the ex-wife or her new husband at the at White's grand jury.  They would have testified that White was, in fact living there, and as a result the prosecutors wouldn't have gotten the voter fraud and perjury indictments.  
Attorney Jim Bopp argued for
Secretary of State Charlie White

What about the supposed motivation that White changed his residence so he could continue serving on the Fisher's Town Council?   It's almost laughable that White, who was in line to become Secretary of State, would have been motivated to commit voter fraud by a desire to continue serving on the Fishers Town Council, a position which paid a nominal salary and offered no benefits.   Nonetheless, White explained that Fishers' town council members have to reside in certain districts to run, but serve at-large and are voted on by all Fishers voters.   He noted there was a legal opinion that the Fishers town council residency requirement only applied to when you're originally elected.  He also pointed out that at least one other council member had moved from the district he was originally elected in and served for three more years.

One of the charges against White is mortgage fraud because of documents he signed at closing.  As a former attorney to a title insurance agency and having conducted maybe 100 closings, I know all about this issue.  The document in question is the occupancy affidavit where you promise that you will live in the residence within 60 days.  You get a better interest rate on the loan if you agree to occupy the residence.  Supposedly White committed mortgage fraud by saying he was going to live at the condo and instead living at the Broad Leaf house, a charge I might add that contradicts the other charges.

But the occupancy document is "intent to occupy."  As long as you have that intent at the time you sign, it is not perjury and not mortgage fraud.  White explained during his testimony that he didn't occupy the condo as quickly as he expected because he was campaigning state-wide and his marriage was delayed and that his fiance didn't want to live together at the condo until they were married.   I would also note that the mortgage company, which would have been the victim of the alleged fraud, has no complaints about White's delay in occupying the .

White today hit a homerun.  The Democrats' case to remove him as Secretary of State is gone.  In light of the testimony there is at the minimum reasonable doubt about all the criminal charges against White.  It's time to end the political persecution of the Secretary of State.  Maybe it it time instead to instead investigate the people who sought to bring down Charlie White through baseless criminal charges.


Jon E. Easter said...

Your petty shots at Karen are pretty ridiculous, though, I must admit, I cannot be too impartial on that. She's a friend. Her name is most definitely not spelled correctly here. It's Karen Celestino-Horseman. Please make a note of it.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Dang, and I actually worked hard to get the name spelled right and still belw it..

I don't know what you're talking about in terms of "petty shots." I always feel sorry to see attorneys arguing cases where they don't have a strong argument. I think she did extremely well with what she had to work with. I don't think it's a stretch though to say she come across as more than a tad bit abrasive though. I always tell attorneys you want the jury to like you, you want them to feel pain to decide against you. Granted it wasn't a jury, but it was a three person panel and I don't think all of them were attorneys.

For the record, Bopp could have lightened up too. Still he was a lot more likable than Karen Cellistino-Horseman.

Greg Purvis said...

Paul Ogden suggests that people do not, or even should not, read the documents at a real estate closing. As someone with a lot of experience in foreclosure litigation, and a former in-house attorney for a consumer lender who also supervised real estate closings, this is BAD advice. You are almost certainly going to be held to what is in the documents, whether you read them all or not. And I don’t know about Paul, but I had it hammered into me in law school to actually READ the documents I am signing, they have consequences.

Charlie White is a lawyer. He claimed at closing, and over and over and over again in numerous documents, that he was living at the new condo. Do we believe the documents, or do we believe the self-serving declarations of someone attempting to avoid criminal prosecution? And do we believe THIS version, or other earlier-reported versions?