BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Jury selection is underway in the case against one of the two men behind the infamous election night robocalls of 2010. Political consultant Julius Henson faces charges that those calls broke election laws.
Derek Valcourt explains the case moves forward despite attempts by the defense to have it thrown out.
Henson maintains that robocall is protected by the First Amendment, but the judge wasn’t biting.
“We made the call,” Henson told WJZ.
Henson admits he wrote the now infamous Election Night robocall 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 saying “we” are winning and there was no need to go vote.
The robocall never mentioned that it was really coming from Ehrlich’s campaign. State law says it has to.
“We thought this was an important case to bring,” said Emmet Davitt, state prosecutor.
The state prosecutor believes the call was an attempt at illegal voter suppression, and he’s already scored a conviction against Bob Ehrlich’s campaign manager.
But Henson’s defense attorney says the case is not about voter suppression but politics.
“This is the case involving who won the election, and why they won it and why people attained power,” said Ed Smith Jr., defense attorney.
He points out the state prosecutor was appointed by Ehrlich’s opponent, Democratic Governor Martin O’ Malley.
He hopes to convince the jurors Henson is being unfairly targeted by those in political power.
“My client certainly thinks that,” Smith said.
The state prosecutor insists the decision to charge Henson was not political
“Every case that comes along we try to make an independent judgment of whether it merits prosecution,” Davitt said.
The judge ruled the robocall content is not protected by free speech, so Henson must now convince the jury the calls were not intended to suppress voter turnout.
Defense attorneys for Henson and for Ehrlich campaign manager Paul Schurick have promised to appeal their First Amendment arguments all the way up to the Supreme Court.