Jury Begins Deliberations In Robocalls Case

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A jury is deliberating in the trial against former Governor Bob Ehrlich’s campaign manager. The jury is being asked to decide whether Paul Schurick intentionally tried to suppress African-American voter turnout when he approved a 2010 election night robocall.

Derek Valcourt has more on the decision facing the jury.

It all comes down to the robocall and whether the jury believes the defense’s reverse psychology argument.

When phones rang on Election Night before the polls even closed, some 112,000 registered Democrats in Baltimore City and Prince George’s County heard this: “I’m calling to let anyone know that Governor O’Malley and President Obama have been successful. We’re OK. Relax. Everything is fine. The only thing left is to watch it on TV tonight.”

That call, which was authorized and approved by Ehrlich campaign manager Paul Schurick, was intended to convince Democrats not to go vote, according to the state prosecutor. He told jurors in closing arguments, “There’s only one meaning there. It’s deceptive. It’s trickery. He knew what he did was wrong.”

But defense attorney Dwight Pettit says Schurick wasn’t being deceptive. He says he was just following advice from campaign consultant Julius Henson. He insists the call was meant to be reverse psychology, meaning it would inspire those who heard it to rush to the polls to vote for Bob Ehrlich. Pettit called it a political misjudgment and a bad decision. In hindsight, he says, “It all seems stupid now.” But not, he argued, illegal.

“There was no criminal conspiracy on the second of November and I think the witnesses they produced testified most favorably for the defense,” Pettit said.

The defense also blames Henson for the fact that the call did not identify which campaign it came from, as required. Henson faces a separate trial in February.

The jury began deliberations around 2:30 p.m. They have been sent home for the day. Deliberations will resume Tuesday morning.

If convicted on all four criminal charges, Henson faces the possibility of up to 12 years in prison.

More from Derek Valcourt
  • Bernard Mc Kernan

    We have far more important trials on the docket for rapes, murders, armed robberies etc & we are doing what? Trying to embarrass one political party because of ego. Judges & jury’s should be doing real work & not this fluff.

  • concern citizen

    Election fraud.

  • bmoregyrl

    I did not see anything wrong with what happened, the message had nothing in there to say that people should stay home and not to go out and vote and the calls close to the end of the election. So please stop with all the BS and just move on……..

  • Steve Wilson

    No one is going to jail over this. First off, this is standard politics for Republicans and Bob Ehrlich. Second, this is Baltimore City, where there is no concept of right and wrong. Third, the fix is in. The current judge has already set the stage for an appeal.

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