INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Charlie White can remain Indiana's
secretary of state until a higher court has reviewed a decision ousting
him from office, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Judge Louis Rosenberg stayed his initial ruling ordering the state recount
commission to certify Democrat Vop Osili as the winner of the November
2010 election pending the review. Osili secured the second highest vote
tally in the poll.
ordered White's ouster Dec. 22 because of allegations that the Republican
had been improperly registered as a candidate when he ran for office.
Democrats had asked him to overturn a June decision by the Indiana Recount
Commission that rejected their challenge to his candidacy.
faces a Jan. 30 criminal trial on charges that he lied about where he
lived during the 2010 primary so he could remain on the Fishers Town
Council. If convicted, he would automatically be removed from office.
White maintains his innocence.
ruling released Wednesday said "the negative consequences would be great
and irreparable" if Rosenberg denied the stay and his decision was later
reversed. It also would "unnecessarily weaken" the secretary of state's
office at a critical time when it must oversee the 2012 elections, the
rejected a plea by Democrats that he allow Osili to take the office if
White is removed or resigns before a higher court can rule. Without such
an order, they said, White's replacement might be appointed by Republican
Gov. Mitch Daniels.
there could be a controversy over how White's successor is selected if he
is convicted of criminal charges, and that granting Democrats' proposal
"unnecessarily injects the court into issues not before it."
attorney William Groth said the decision was "not at all surprising."
"In the event
circumstances materially change while Mr. White's appeal is pending, we
would anticipate asking the court to lift the stay immediately. However,
like the court, we are unable to predict what further twists and turns
this case will take," Groth said in an email to The Associated Press.
attorney, David Brooks, said he believed the judge's order was correct.
underlying ruling involves issues of tremendous public importance at a
variety of levels that go beyond who should be secretary of state," Brooks
said. He said those decisions should be made by a higher court.
during a hearing Tuesday that ousting White because he registered to vote
where he lived instead of where he intended to live would have
repercussions for thousands of ordinary voters.
Democratic lawyers had invited attorneys for White and the attorney
general's office to join them in asking the Indiana Supreme Court to
assume jurisdiction over the appeal so that the case could be promptly
general's office and Brooks both said they were considering that option.
"I don't think
there's any big rush now," said Brooks. "We have a little bit of breathing
and Republican state party chairmen didn't immediately return phone calls
and emails seeking comment Wednesday.
County grand jury indicted White in March on seven felony counts alleging
that he used his ex-wife's address on voter registration and other
documents while he actually lived at a condo where he intended to live
with his new wife, and that he collected his council salary after moving
out of the district he represented.
White has said
the allegations ignored a complicated personal life in which he was trying
to raise his 10-year-old son, plan his second marriage and campaign for
Superior Court Judge Steven Nation last month rejected White's motion to
dismiss the seven felony counts and ruled that his trial in Noblesville
begin Jan. 30.