BALTIMORE — Opening statements were made Tuesday in the Baltimore City Circuit Court trial of Paul Schurick, the chief campaign aide to former Governor Bob Ehrlich. Schurick is being charged in connection with robocalls made in the 2010 governor’s race allegedly designed to suppress the African-American vote.
The calls were sent out in the final hours of the general election in November 2010 to more than 200,000 democratic, mostly African American voters in Baltimore City and Prince George’s County. Among those getting the call was Lawrence Fletcher-Hill, the judge hearing the case. Both sides agreed they did not have a problem with Fletcher-Hill continuing to preside over the trial after he revealed that he was among the recipients of the robocall.
The calls had a message telling voters not to go to the polls because O’Malley had already won, even though the polls were still open. Schurick is being tried on conspiracy and fraud charges.
In his opening statement, attorney Emmet Davitt, with the Office of the State Prosecutor, argued that the evidence, including tapes and campaign e-mails will prove overwhelmingly that Schurick deliberately made the calls in violation of election laws. Defense attorney Dwight Pettit countered that Schurick initially discarded the idea, and that others in the campaign, including outreach coordinator Julian Henson, pushed the idea through. Henson will be standing trial on similar charges in February.