Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Ruthann Aron: A Deadly Campaign

Leveling the Field

Ruthann Aron
Ruthann Aron

After a week in Fallsburg, Ruthann returned to Maryland, using her father's murder as a platform to support her arguments for a tougher stance against crime. She also resumed her attack against Brock, to the point that she even interrupted him at media events and called him a flat out liar. Initially, Brock ignored the biting remarks from his rival but his patience wouldn't last very long.

In September, Brock finally decided that he couldn't sit back any longer and let Ruthann sabotage his campaign, so he fought back. He did so by telling audiences that Ruthann had previously been "convicted or found guilty by jury of fraud more than once," Perez-Rivas and Jon Jeter reported for The Washington Post. The malicious remarks, implying that she had a criminal record, proved disastrous for Ruthann even though they were not entirely true.

Actually, she was never convicted in her previous court battles, but by then it didn't matter anymore. Ruthann's campaign was crippled beyond repair by Brock's comments, resulting in her losing the primary race. Vick stated in his article "that there was nothing unusual about Brock's counterattack" but what was unusual, said Tony Marsh, a veteran Republican consultant handling Ruthann's media strategy, "was her reaction to it. It was all out of proportion...she sort of lost control."

Arthur G. Kahn
Arthur G. Kahn

Taking Brock's attack as personal, she immediately launched back by filing a slander suit against him. It was a historic move because "no losing federal candidate was ever before known to have gotten the winner into court over words spoken in a campaign," Vick reported.

The move was, in essence, political suicide, destroying her chances of winning future campaigns. But at the time Ruthann was more interested in getting even than getting ahead.

During the 1996 trial in Annapolis, many testified, including Brock, Alexandria lawyer John E. Harrison, who represented a client in a 1990 lawsuit against Ruthann, and Arthur G. Kahn, who represented plaintiffs in a 1984 case against her. During his testimony, Kahn discussed how Ruthann defrauded his former clients and how the jury agreed that she acted inappropriately. Vick reported that a juror, Harmon Bullard, found Kahn's testimony most memorable because he could almost see "the hate between the two in his voice and testimony." It was considered a crucial "turning point" in the trial, eventually leading to another legal defeat for Ruthann.

However, in May 1997, a Maryland appeals court ruled that Ruthann had the right to a new trial because she was not allowed to review a juror's notes of the proceedings, which allegedly influenced other jurors. But Ruthann would never have the opportunity to have a new trial. She would be too busy with other, more serious legal matters.

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