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Ehrlich Defends Campaign Manager In Robocall Trial

BALTIMORE (WJZ)-- Election Night robocall controversy. Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich takes the stand to defend a former top aide who prosecutors say tried to suppress the vote during Ehrlich's rematch with Gov. Martin O'Malley.

Derek Valcourt has more on what the former governor had to say.

Former Gov. Ehrlich was on the stand only a few minutes. But it was long enough to tell the jury of the high opinion he has for his former campaign manager and good friend.

"I'm not pleased to be here but it's the right thing to do," he said.

Former Governor Bob Ehrlich was the last in a parade of character witnesses called to testify on behalf of his 2010 campaign manager Paul Schurick, who he called a good guy, someone he trusted with all of his important decisions.

Schurick faces charges that he and campaign consultant Julius Henson intended to suppress voter turnout with the 2010 Election Night robocalls that suggested there was no need to go vote because Democrats had already been victorious before the polls even closed.

"I hired Paul because I wanted a Democrat on my congressional staff a long time ago," Ehrlich told WJZ after he left the courthouse. "I represented a majority Democrat district. And I had staff on leave at the time, and we formed an employer-employee relationship at the time and that evolved into a very close personal relationship as well."

The first character witness called by the defense, Ehrlich's Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, who called Schurick an "honest man of high integrity," a "straight shooter."

The jury also heard from 91-year-old former Gov. Marvin Mandel.

"He's straightforward, honest. I've never had a problem under any circumstances," Mandel said.

The day for Paul Schurick started with a minor victory. Early Thursday morning, the judge decided to throw out one of the criminal charges against Schurick-- the obstruction of justice charge. The judge said that, in this case, the prosecution did not present enough evidence to prove the obstruction of justice.

Campaign consultant Julius Henson goes on trial for similar charges in February.

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