A Baltimore Circuit Court Judge ruled Thursday that former political consultant Julius Henson has violated his probation by filing to run for state Senate and sentenced him to four months in prison.
But Judge Emanuel Brown stayed the sentence pending appeal and gave Henson 30 days to file that appeal.
Brown said he was “baffled” by Henson’s interpretation of the probation order, which said Henson “shall not work in any political campaign paid/volunteer during probation.”
The sentence ended the three year probation for Henson, who promptly said he would return to the race.
“I will continue to run and consult…probation is closed,” he said.
Henson was convicted in May 2012 of election law violations related to the “robocall” case in the 2010 governor’s race. He served 30 days in jail and was on three-years’ probation when he filed to run for the East Baltimore Senate seat held by Nathaniel McFadden for 20 years.
During the hearing, Chemaine Alston, Henson’s probation agent, said she told him last October she feared that his running for office would violate the terms of his probation. She said she had no other conversations with him about it.
Alston said she reported the October conversation and was told to file a follow-up report should Henson declare his candidacy.
Henson filed with the state Board of Elections last week.
State Prosecutor Emmett Davitt argued Henson never sought any clarification on his probation order and that he should have done so if he was genuinely concerned.
Neverdon, who is running for Baltimore City State’s Attorney, argued there is a difference between working in a campaign and being a candidate. For example, he said, he can’t write checks or do other things in his own campaign.
Henson echoed the theory from the witness stand. “It was clear to me I could not work or volunteer, it didn’t say I couldn’t be a candidate,” he said.
Judge Brown said Henson’s disregard of the probation order has “used up the grace as far as this court is concerned.”
Afterward, Neverdon said he was happy about the outcome and that he is turning his attention to the appeal.
“There are some gray areas and nuances that have to be addressed and at the end of the day we do believe that we are going to be successful based on the case law that’s available,” said Neverdon. He added that with the probation ended there is nothing to stop Henson from running as a candidate or being a political consultant again.