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Jury Selection May Begin Tuesday In Robocalls Trial

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The trial is underway for a second man accused of using robocalls to suppress voter turnout on Election Night 2010.

Derek Valcourt has the latest.

With a Baltimore jury already ruling against one of the men behind the robocalls, it is now likely that Henson faces an uphill battle as he tries to prove his innocence in the matter.

A group of supporters followed political consultant Julius Henson to court. He’s hoping to avoid the same fate as Republican Bob Ehrlich’s campaign manager, Paul Schurick, who now awaits sentencing after a jury found him guilty for his role in sending Election Night robocalls to 112,000 registered Democrats in Baltimore City and Prince George’s County hinting there was no need to go vote.

“Basically, the state made a mistake in bringing this case and we’ll prove it,” Henson said.

Henson admits he was also behind the robocalls. His friend and assistant Rhonda Russell is expected to testify that the calls she recorded were intended to be a form of reverse psychology.

“This would stimulate the voters to say `Hey, my vote was going to Ehrlich. He’s down and out; I’m going to go vote for Ehrlich,'” said Russell.

But the state prosecutor sees it differently. He alleges the robocalls violated election laws, amounted to voter suppression and failed to include the required disclosure that the call came from the Ehrlich campaign, charges Henson and his attorney dispute.

“We’re claiming the statute itself is vague, overbroad and unconstitutional under the First Amendment,” said attorney Edward Smith, Jr.

That was one of the pretrial motions the defense made before the judge Monday afternoon. It is expected jury selection will get underway Tuesday.

Ehrlich campaign manager Paul Schurick is scheduled for sentencing on Feb. 16.

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