Million Dollar Advocates Forum
Super Lawyers
ABA badge
Lexis Nexis
American Association for Justice
MSBA badge

From the Ruthann Aron Trial, Comedy and Drama

Most of the four weeks of Ruthann Aron’s murder-for-hire trial focused on mind-numbing testimony about the politician’s brain.

But there were moments of drama, sadness and even lighthearted fun.

At one point, defense attorney Barry H. Helfand vigorously objected to what turned out to be a joke about a witness’s golf game. Davis M. Richardson, one of Aron’s former colleagues on the county planning board, testified that Aron appeared perfectly normal during a charity golf tournament the afternoon of her arrest. “Your honor, {I have} a question I promised to ask Mr. Richardson,” Deputy State’s Attorney I. Matthew Campbell piped up. “Objection!” Helfandshouted. “Your honor, this is outside the line {of questioning}!” The prosecutor continued unfazed: “Did anything unusual happen?” he asked the witness. “I object!” Helfand protested. “Yes, sir,” Richardson told the courtroom with only a hint of a proud smile, “I hit a hole-in-one.” Regardless of Aron’s fate — whether she is sentenced to prison or committed to a psychiatric hospital — many courtroom observers agreed that she already has suffered real punishment in a very public fall from grace.

Nothing in the onetime U.S. Senate candidate’s life, it seemed, was off limits: her childhood sexual abuse, her psychiatric records, her rocky marriage, even the breast implants and wigs the defense said she got to please a demanding husband. (Prosecutors said Aron bought a wig as a disguise to wear when dropping off the supposed hit man’s down payment.) Helfand lamented to reporters that Aron has been “publicly humiliated” by intense scrutiny of her trial.

It was the defense, however, that first dragged out Aron’s private life as part of a strategy to show how abuse and mental illness pushed her over the edge. “We’re going to put in Ruthann’s life from soup to nuts,” Helfand told a reporter before the trial. “Everything,” he said. “Nothing’s going to be held back.” Circuit Court Judge Paul A. McGuckian instructed all witnesses not to discuss their testimony. That didn’t stop lawyer Arthur G. Kahn, one of Aron’s alleged targets, from walking off the stand and promptly holding a news conference. No, Kahn said, he doesn’t think Aron was insane when she added him to her hit list. He does, however, think she still wants him “eliminated.” And for that reason, he said, he’d prefer Aron end up in a psychiatric hospital rather than prison. “I understand you meet a lot of criminals in prison,” Kahn said, “and they have connections. It’s easy to find someone in prison to kill for you.”

Client Reviews
"I have watched Mr. Helfand in trial and in negotiations. He is remarkable. Mr. Helfand is extremely knowledgeable in the law, and even more knowledgeable in the ways to deal with people." Afshin Pishevar, Criminal Defense Attorney in Rockville, MD
"I strongly endorse this lawyer. I have known Mr. Helfand for many years. We have worked together on cases and represented conflicting parties. I have watched Mr. Helfand in trial and in negotiations. He is remarkable." David Felsen, Criminal Defense Attorney in Rockville, MD
"It’s one of the biggest cases that’s been tried in Montgomery County in a long time,” said Steve VanGrack, a Rockville lawyer considering a Democratic bid for state’s attorney." Washington Post