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Henson robocall trial put on hold

An illness is delaying the trial of a political operative accused of using robocalls to suppress black voter turnout during the 2010 gubernatorial election.

Baltimore City Circuit Judge Emanuel Brown on Wednesday postponed the trial of Julius Henson, a campaign consultant for former Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich in his rematch with Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley, until Feb. 23. The state’s primary investigator is too ill to testify.

The calls told supporters of O’Malley and President Barack Obama to relax because they had won. Henson has said he did not believe the calls were illegal and weren’t meant to suppress the vote.

Henson is charged with two counts of conspiracy to violate election laws and one count each of election fraud and failing to include a campaign authority line on the call.

His alleged co-conspirator, Ehrlich aide Paul Schurick, was convicted of four similar counts in December.

Henson had been charged with a third count of conspiracy, but Brown dismissed it on Tuesday after finding it replicated the charges in the other two conspiracy counts.

Also on Tuesday, Brown denied a motion to dismiss the case against Henson on the grounds that the statute violates the First Amendment.