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Former Ehrlich Aide To Go On Trial On Charges Of Violating Election Laws

BALTIMORE (WJZ)-- A former top aide to Republican Governor Bob Ehrlich will soon head to trial on charges he broke the law trying to get Ehrlich re-elected. It all has to do with those now infamous election night robocalls.

Monique Griego has more on jury selection in the case scheduled to start Monday.

Attorney and former Ehrlich aide Paul Schick will try to convince a jury he was not part of conspiracy to break election laws.

As Gov. Bob Ehrlich ran for re-election in 2010, his trusted friend and advisor Paul Schurick led his campaign. And it's Schurick, not Ehlrich, now in the crosshairs of the state prosecutor's office.

They argue it was Schurick who authorized election night robocalls to 112,000 registered Democrats in Baltimore City and Prince George's County, hinting there was no need to go vote.

"...Gov. 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."

Now Schurick and campaign consultant Julius Henson each face three counts of conspiring to violate election laws, attempting to suppress voter turnout and failing to identify who was behind the robocalls.

Schurick is also charged with obstruction of justice. Prosecutors say he intentionally withheld documents sought by a grand jury subpoena. Schurick maintains his innocence. Attorney Dwight Pettit will argue his defense.

"I am certain, and I feel comfortable that when a jury hears all the facts, he will be found not guilty and exonerated," Pettit said.

Prosecutors plan to introduce a document called "The Schurick Doctrine" which they say states: "The first and foremost desired outcome is voter suppression" and targets African-Americans.

"It seems to me from what I've read, that they do have pretty strong evidence that these robocalls were for the purpose of dissuading people from exercising their right to vote," legal expert Byron Warnken said.

The trial for the other defendant, Julius Henson, was postponed. The judge in that case recused himself saying he had been appointed by Governor O'Malley and didn't want to appear biased.

It's possible that Schurick could run into similar problems. If not, jury selection could begin Monday afternoon.

Schurick's trial is expected to last about a week.

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