Political intrigue and crime unfolding at the courthouse
The jury had just been seated, pared down from 55 citizens to 12, and judge, Lawrence P. Fletcher-Hill, was admonishing the jury about not talking about the case. No Twitter notes. No Facebook. Don't spill the days testimony at the family dinner table. Don't read the papers.
Seconds later, a female juror raised her hand. She sheepishly told the judge that, before she was selected to the panel, she had called her husband and said, "You won't believe the case I'm on."
The judge told her not to do it again, and then told the jurors the case they were on would generate publicity. The back two rows were filled with reporters watching jury selection, a tedious process usually skipped by the media.
The case involves Paul Schurick, an aide to former Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., accused of orchestrating a robocall campaign to suppress the the black vote during last year's governor's election won by Democrat Martin O'Malley. Read story here.
Ehrlich is expected to take the witness stand, as is Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, along with a cast of political characters who might open up the world of dirty tricks and political intrigue in Maryland politics.
The judge, appointed by O'Malley but having won an independent election that keeps him on the bench through 2025, admitted to receiving one of the robocalls, telling voters the election was over, O'Malley had won and there was no need to vote even though polls were still open.
Schurick, charged with conspiracy to commit election fraud, is represented by a prominent black defense attorney, who plans on calling the black congressman Cummings to talk about his counter robocalls and whether there was some giant political conspiracy afoot.
Let the political games begin.