Monday, January 30, 2012

Charlie White Trial - Day 1 Jury selection

The day began at 4:40 for me and started with a one and a half hour Yoga routine then breakfast, getting dressed and on may way to Noblesville at 7:15. I arrived to the Superior Court 1 for the first day of the criminal trial of Charlie White who was already there when I arrived at 8:00 a.m. Judge Steve R Nation is presiding over the jury trial of White who is accused of seven felony counts including perjury, theft and voter fraud.

White, the current Indiana Secretary of State, is accused in all seven counts of falsifying his address on candidacy filing forms and other matters relating to his election to the Fisher's Town Council or a real estate transaction. White has repeatedly proclaimed his innocence insisting that he actually resided at the address he listed.

White is represented by former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi who is not without some political baggage in his closet. Brizzi's office was investigated by the FBI in 2010 related to campaign contributions and the early release of a convicted killer. Although under no obligation to present a defense Brizzi named 16 people as potential defense witnesses.

The prosecution team consists of three attorneys who are Special Prosecutor Dan Sigler, Special Prosecutor John Dowd and Deputy Special Prosecutor DJ Sigler. All three worked as prosecutors in other counties. They are assisted by Paul Hanser, an investigator with the Indiana State Police. The prosecution team named 14 people as potential witnesses for state.

I spoke with White briefly who is barred from commenting about the case because of a gag order issued by the court. We didn't speak of issues related to today's proceeding but we have spoken in the past about matters related to this case and divorce, children and adults cooperating to do what is best for children in general. White has formerly practiced as a family law attorney.

Upon the conclusion of the trial and the lifting of the order I will talk to Charlie more extensively about the case and his feelings after going through it. I have honoured Charlie's request that I not use the names of his children and will not describe them beyond simple demographic information necessary for you to understand the dynamics of this case.

The crux of the case will revolve around where White was actually domiciled at the time of his filing and what his anticipated address would be at the time of the election. White and his then wife were in the process of a marriage dissolution but he stayed in her household for a period of time after the filing. Concurrently though he had a new love interest whom he planned to marry.

A dissolution proceeding is stressful not only for the married participants but more importantly the children. In this case White and his wife, Nicole Mills, decided it would be best to maintain as much continuity for their children as possible while he attempted to establish a stable residence of his own. They agreed to an arrangement whereby Charlie would occupy the basement of the wife's house although much of the time he was essentially living out of his car while on the road campaigning. "We're still friends. We may have different views about life and our careers and things like that, but at the end of the day, the most important thing is that we are parents to our child," Mills said.

White's prospective wife, now Michelle Quigley-White, and he agreed that they would not live together until such time as his dissolution was finalized and they could get married. However, Charlie did purchase a condo that would be his eventual residence. Michelle did live there during some of the time that Charlie is alleged to have been domiciled there and committing election fraud.

A crucial test of where one is domiciled is where one receives his mail and states his residence on tax forms. Indiana has determined residence in insurance cases by considering: (1) physical presence (intending to have a fixed abode for the time being, to dwell under the same roof and compose a family); (2) the unrestricted access to the insured's home and its contents; (3) the intent of the contracting parties to provide coverage; and (4) the totality of the evidence. The critical question will likely be whether White accurately predicted where his residence would be on the day of the election

Jury selection began at 10:30 a.m. with questioning of individual jurors about responses given on their juror questionnaires. Much of this line of questioning related to panel members who indicated they had seen or heard news accounts of the case or may have already developed an opinion about the guilt or innocence of White.

The court broken for lunch around 1:00 p.m. and resumed the process about an hour later. At 3:30 p.m. John Dowd lead the voir dire, the questioning of potential jurors, of the potential jurors as a complete panel. That line of questioning focuses on more broader points such as the members ability to follow the law, find guilt or innocence based only upon the evidence presented and whether the had any personal connection to or knew of any family members who knew any of the attorneys or Charlie.

Additionally, there were questions of individual members about their employment, the type of work they do and if it would present a hardship for any to be away from work for two weeks. DJ Sigler concluded the afternoon voir dire process by speaking about the elements of the crime and the burden that the prosecution must overcome. He focused on a point of interest being that there is no element of a crime described as motive and that is usually a sensationalized element made up for television programs.

The day concluded with the panel being excused at 4:35 p.m. The voir dire process is expected to conclude Tuesday at which time a panel of 12 jurors and two alternates will have been selected. The day had started with 47 potential jurors which was reduced to 30 by the close of the session.

Opening statements are expected on Wednesday morning which will be followed the the presentation of the State's case-in-chief. The trial is expected to be concluded by the middle of next week. It will then be given to the jury for deliberations.

On Tuesday I will post about some of the statements made by the potential jurors during their individual questioning and why these answers should scare the hell out of you.

If you need assistance with a dissolution, child custody matter or criminal matter involving either then please visit my website and contact my scheduler to make an appointment to meet with me.

If you would like to follow my activities more closely then send a friend request to my Political FaceBook page.

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More information about child custody rights and procedures may be found on the Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates website.

©2012 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

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