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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ind. Courts - " Former Secretary of State Charlie White sues Carl Brizzi" Second former official also suing

That is the headline to this Indianapolis Star story by Tim Evans. If this sounds like old news, it kind of is. In this March 21st post, another story by Tim Evans is quoted, reporting on White's motion for post-conviction relief:

In the motion for post-conviction relief, White cites three general issues: * * *

[Including that] he was denied effective counsel by his attorney, former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi.

From today's story:
White is seeking a new trial. He said Brizzi, a former friend and political associate, didn't provide an adequate defense at his 2012 trial. That request is pending in Hamilton Superior Court.

White also is pressing that point in the lawsuit filed last week in Marion Superior Court. In the 31-page complaint, White makes numerous complaints about Brizzi’s work as his defense attorney, alleging legal malpractice, breach of contract, negligent or reckless infliction of emotional distress, fraud and unjust enrichment.

More interesting to the ILB is the second part of the story:
White is the second former public official who turned to Brizzi for a criminal defense to sue the former prosecutor. Earlier this year, former Hancock County Coroner Tamara Vangundy filed a lawsuit alleging Brizzi provided incompetent legal counsel when representing her in 2012. * * *

Vangundy, the former Hancock County coroner, sued Brizzi in May.

That suit involves Brizzi’s work in a criminal case that followed her arrest in May 2012 on suspicion of drunken driving,

In the lawsuit, she said she had hoped the outcome of her criminal case would allow her to retain the right to keep her job as coroner and to run for re-election.

Describing her DUI arrest as a one-time mistake influenced by the effect of a prescription sleep aid, Vangundy said Hancock County voters might forgive her misstep if she remained eligible to serve.

Brizzi advised Vangundy to accept a plea agreement, the lawsuit states, in which she would plead guilty to a misdemeanor DUI charge and a felony official misconduct charge. In return, under the agreement, she would receive misdemeanor sentencing for both counts.

Under state law, a person cannot serve in elected office if convicted of a felony.

Brizzi wrongly believed, however, that Vangundy would remain eligible to hold elective office if sentenced entirely under misdemeanor guidelines, the lawsuit states.

Vangundy now is being represented by Indianapolis attorney Irwin Levin in her lawsuit against Brizzi, filed May 16 in Marion Superior Court.

Levin said in May: "Tamara Vangundy said, 'Look, the one thing that is important to me is that I be able to run for re-election, and then my constituency in Hancock County can decide whether they want me or not.’ Carl Brizzi charged her $10,000 and then advised her that she could plead to a felony, and because there was misdemeanor sentencing she would be OK."

After Brizzi was informed of his error, according to Levin, Brizzi told Vangundy, “Oh yeah, I guess I missed that.”

Levin said he tried to communicate directly with Brizzi, he said, over Vangundy's desire to collect damages.

"He would not respond to requests by us informally," Levin said.

Vangundy had to borrow money from her parents, who took out a second mortgage on their home, to enlist Brizzi's services, according to the lawsuit.

"After this unfortunate series of events," the lawsuit states, "Ms. Vangundy asked Carl Brizzi to return his $10,000 fee because his advice was wrong and caused Ms. Vangundy to lose her position as Hancock County coroner, but Carl Brizzi laughed and refused."

The ILB has two earlier posts on this matter, from August 23 and 24, 2012. Here is the first, when Vangundy expressed hopes for re-election in Novemeber. The second, from the following day, explained why "Vangundy will not be able to run for reelection for coroner after all."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 31, 2013 09:07 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts