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Order To Henson Made Clear: Your Campaign Only

P. Kenneth Burns / WYPR

Political consultant Julius Henson’s quest for public office can continue, a Baltimore judge ruled Friday. But Henson can’t work on anyone else’s campaign; at least until next June.

Circuit Judge Emmanuel Brown ruled that Henson had violated “the spirit and the letter” of his order preventing Henson from working in a political campaign as a volunteer or a paid staffer by filing to run for the State Senate. But, the judge added, he is bound by an appellate court ruling that allows former Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold to run for office, despite the terms of his probation.

Leopold was convicted of misconduct in office in 2013, served 30 days in jail and was released on parole with the condition that he could not run for public office. In March, the Court of Special Appeals ruled that provision was unconstitutional. The court said that it was up to the state Board of Elections to determine who is eligible to run for office, not the courts.

Henson was convicted of election law violations stemming from the 2010 governor’s race and sentenced to 60 days in jail and banned from working “in any campaign”  during his three years’ probation.

Judge Brown ruled Henson violated that probation by launching his primary campaign against Nathaniel McFadden, a 20-year incumbent.

Brown vacated that ruling Friday and placed Henson back on probation until June 2015, as originally sentenced.  He also ordered Henson to stop working on other campaigns if he is doing so.

Russell Neverdon, Henson’s attorney, argued in court that would force Henson to break contracts he holds with clients. But Brown told Henson he will have to “deal with it as best as you can but you will not work on other campaigns.”

Outside of the Mitchell Courthouse, Neverdon pledged to file an appeal immediately.

“To say ‘I don’t care what happens, if you are in a contract right now, you break it, you breach it and whatever happens happens,’ that is the part that is problematic,” said Neverdon.

Henson called the ruling “voodoo justice.”

“What it demonstrates is that people, an ordinary citizen, will not; does not get a fair chance in this court system and Judge Brown is a very typical example of that,” he said.

State Prosecutor Emmet Davitt said Brown’s ruling was appropriate.