Reporting Derek Valcourt
BALTIMORE (WJZ)— Difficult deliberations. Jurors were once again unable to reach a verdict in the trial of Julius Henson, the political consultant accused of the Election Night robocall scandal.
Derek Valcourt explains what happened with the jury Thursday.
After nearly eight hours of a second day of deliberations in the trial against one of the two men accused of sending misleading robocalls to voters on Election Night 2010, jurors still have not reached a decision.
As Republican Bob Ehrlich and Democrat Martin O’Malley squared off in a 2010 rematch, Ehrlich’s campaign consultant Julius Henson wrote and sent a robocall to thousands of registered Democrats before polls closed on Election Night, suggesting there was no need to go vote because O’Malley was already winning.
The robocall said: “I’m calling to let everyone 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.”
Prosecutors argued that robocall was an illegal attempt to suppress African-American voter turnout through deceit and say the call was misleading because it did not contain the legally required authority line, identifying it was really paid for by the Ehrlich campaign.
“The First Amendment does not protect fraudulent speech. We think that’s clearly the case here,” said Emmet Davitt, state prosecutor.
But Henson took the stand to tell jurors the call was used as a reverse psychology strategy meant to get people to vote for Ehrlich. And he blamed his convicted co-conspirator Paul Schurick for the decision to leave off the required authority tag line.
“It comes down to Mr. Schurick and the Ehrlich campaign. It was their responsibility to put an authority line on that call. I recommended that they do so. I went around them to get them to do so. They refused. That is not my responsibility,” Henson said.
Deliberations will resume Friday morning.
WJZ will bring you the verdict as soon as it happens.