Marion Circuit Court Judge Louis Rosenberg ruled Wednesday that Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White can remain in office while he appeals an order removing him from the statewide post.
Rosenberg said he reached the decision because he felt "the negative consequences would be great and irreparable" if he did not grant the stay.
Rosenberg had issued an order Dec. 22 ousting White because he was improperly registered as a candidate when he ran for office in 2010.
Rosenberg subsequently agreed with the argument put forth by David Brooks, White's attorney, who pointed out that the office would slip into chaos if Democrat Vop Osili replaces White and White is reinstated on appeal.
"This is a matter of great public importance, not just to Charlie White, like a lot of people think It's of great importance to any voter in the state of Indiana," Brooks said. "With all due respect to trial court judges, they aren't the ones who should be making the final decisions on matters of great public importance."
Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker said he was not surprised by the decision.
"This is going to be decided by the Indiana Supreme Court," Parker said. "We've asked all the attorneys to join with us and ask the Supreme Court to assume jurisdiction so we can get it over with and get a secretary of state who we believe will be Vop Osili."
Indiana's attorney general is also appealing Rosenberg's Dec. 22 order because it reverses a unanimous decision by the Indiana Recount Commission in June that White was eligible to run for office last year despite questions over his residency.
Rosenberg's order directed the commission to certify Democrat Vop Osili as secretary of state because he received the second most votes in the 2010 election.
Legal maneuverings this week came in a civil lawsuit brought by Democrats seeking to have the commission's decision overturned and White removed from office and replaced by Osili. White collected nearly 977,000 votes in the election, while Osili got just over 632,000.
As secretary of state, White is Indiana's top elections official. He won election despite accusations that he lied about where he lived in the 2010 primary so he could continue collecting his salary as a member of the town council in Fishers, just north of Indianapolis.
White is facing voter fraud and other charges in a criminal case that arose from those allegations. He has maintained his innocence, saying the accusations were politically motivated.
Hamilton Superior Court Judge Steven Nation last month rejected White's motion to dismiss the seven felony counts and ruled that his trial in Noblesville will begin Jan. 30.
If White is convicted in that case, he will be removed from office.
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