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Unexpected Delay In Election Night Robocall Trial

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Derek Valcourt began working at WJZ in September 2002. His first major...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)— There’s a delay in the trial against the campaign consultant accused in the 2010 Election Night robocall controversy. Julius Henson will have to wait to try to convince a jury of his innocence.

Derek Valcourt has been following the case and explains why.

One of the state’s key witnesses is sick. Under doctor’s orders, he won’t be available for days. It’s a setback to a case that’s been brewing for 15 months.

Getting a fair jury is critical to both sides. Remember this case is knee deep in politics. Just look at how we got here.

While Republican Bob Ehrlich campaigned for governor, his campaign team — led by Paul Schurick– agreed to hire Henson to help them win.

“We made the call,” Henson admitted.

Henson also admits he wrote the now infamous Election Night robocall that was sent to 112,000 registered Democrats in predominately black Baltimore City and Prince George’s County.

Before polls were even closed, the call hinted it came from the Democrats who were winning and that there was no need to go vote. The robocall never mentioned that it was really coming from Ehrlich’s campaign.

“It’s not just political dirty tricks,” said Emmitt Davitt, state prosecutor. “It’s against the law.”

Davitt calls it illegal voter suppression, and in Schurick’s case jurors already agreed.

He finds out if later this month if he’s going to go to jail for the same robocall that now has Henson in court arguing the law violates his free speech.

His attorney says it’s hard to keep politics out of the courtroom.

“I think it’s impossible,” said Ed Smith Jr.

Henson’s attorneys want to try to convince the jury that this whole case is a political witch hunt by a prosecutor who was appointed by Ehrlich’s opponent Governor Martin O’Malley.

But the judge told them those political arguments would not be allowed in court. The case will resume Feb. 23.

Attorneys for Schurick say they will be asking a judge to sentence him to probation before judgment when he is sentenced for his role in the robocall scandal on Feb. 16.

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