Skip to comments.California man faces 13 years in jail for scribbling anti-bank messages in chalk
Posted on 06/26/2013 10:54:45 AM PDT by Nachum
Jeff Olson, the 40-year-old man who is being prosecuted for scrawling anti-megabank messages on sidewalks in water-soluble chalk last year now faces a 13-year jail sentence. A judge has barred his attorney from mentioning freedom of speech during trial.
According to the San Diego Reader, which reported on Tuesday that a judge had opted to prevent Olsons attorney from "mentioning the First Amendment, free speech, free expression, public forum, expressive conduct, or political speech during the trial, Olson must now stand trial for on 13 counts of vandalism.
In addition to possibly spending years in jail, Olson will also be held liable for fines of up to $13,000 over the anti-big-bank slogans that were left using washable children's chalk on a sidewalk outside of three San Diego, California branches of Bank of America, the massive conglomerate that received $45 billion in interest-free loans from the US government in 2008-2009 in a bid to keep it solvent after bad bets went south.
The Reader reports that Olsons hearing had gone as poorly as his attorney might have expected, with Judge Howard Shore, who is presiding over the case, granting Deputy City Attorney Paige Hazard's motion to prohibit attorney Tom Tosdal from mentioning the United States' fundamental First Amendment rights.
(Excerpt) Read more at rt.com ...
We are hosed
Shouldn’t the charge be petty vandalism, and the sentence or fine related to the cost of scrubbing the sidewalks?
Pelosi’s inlaws can steal hundreds of Millions of dollars and walk, but a peon spends his life in prison for protesting.
Justice, Obama style
Have to say that the third world is looking freer and freer compared to the USSA.
“A judge has barred his attorney from mentioning freedom of speech during trial.”
What do you call an attorney with an IQ if less than 50?
Don’t for a second believe that this story, and today’s Supreme Court ruling are not related.
You guys are really in trouble.
I guess they didn’t want him to practice his right to Free Speech, they should have given him 100 years so we’d not doubt what was in the heart of those who did the sentencing.
Interest-free loans? I think they meant loans that ended up costing Bank of America $4.5 billion.
what did he write?
Oh good lord. He used sidewalk chalk, make him clean it up.
Maybe a few hours of cleaning up trash, but thirteen years?
I can see why the judge’s ruling make sense. The case is about vandalism, not about the actual message. So the free speech argument is irrelevant.
If the law is written in such a way that the punishments for water-soluble chalk graffiti are too harsh, that is not an issue for the court to address. I do think the judge should use discretion in handing out the least harsh punishment allowed by law in this case, but still, he is within his judicial authority.
What am I missing here? If I am wrong, please explain why, without resorting to accusations of my being a troll or a closet fascist, which would only demonstrate the accuser’s inability to engage in rational discussion.
If I am wrong, enlighten me.
Good old USSA.
He’s the guy that can throw your sorry butt in jail on a contempt of court charge at the slightest whim.
Judges here (Silicon Valley) make it crystal clear that they will NOT tolerate “any of this jury nullification nonsense” in THEIR courts.
Re-posted with the generally accepted substitute word for nether orifice removed (as well as the entire context of Mr K’s posted question) in hopes of avoiding censorship.
Maybe he can use the Crayola defense.
I’m torn. Part of me says this “judge” is way out of bounds because this does appear to be an obvious free speech issue. The other part of me sees that this is probably one of those damned OWS protesters (anti-bigbank) and I’d like to see him rot in jail because he’s stupid.
It’s a toss-up.
I’m sorry - I should have said “What a Clymer”
Common sense. Or, more appropriately, that is what the judge is missing. It's the same as expelling a student for having an aspirin under some sort of 'zero tolerance for drugs' policy. Obviously, taking an aspirin for a headache is not the same as dealing crack out of your locker. Nor is writing on the sidewalk with chalk the same as defacing private property with spray paint. Blind application of rules and laws is not justice without thought to the purpose of the rule or the good old fashioned right or wrong is not justice; it's idiocy.
Even mentioning jury nullification in my local court could earn you contempt of court jail time.
To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.- Voltaire
the judge appears to be a professor at the University of San Diego....oh boy
Now that is ironic.
And that is why it should be practiced but never mentioned, as such.
Last time I got to voir dire before a trial I was one of the top 12 potential jurors (based on seating position). One of the lawyers asked whether anyone had heard of jury nullification and I gave too detailed of answer, so I got sent home before the trial.
I, unlike the defendant and every person defending him including many freepers am perfectly capable of communicating without vandalism.
For a charge of Vandalism to actually stick, if he has a decent lawyer, there has to be criminal intent.
The arguement that he was making a point is valid, and also that he went out of his way to utilize a temporary and non-destructive means of doing so.
The Judge is a douche and needs removal from the bench...
No criminal intent, no destruction of property = No Vandalism...
Is that hard to understand?
The bank said that it cost $6k to clean up the “damage.” That sounds like a lot to me, but if they can show proof that they incurred that cost, I can see fining the defendant for that plus punitive damages.
I agree 13 years in jail is ridiculous, but I don’t know how real that is. The media often reports “potential sentences” that way for sensationalism. The defendant commits a crime, gets charged with multiple counts, each of which carries some number of months sentence. But the fact is there are usually sentencing guidelines, which combine the terms so that they generally run concurrently. So the defendant ultimately gets, say, five years, whereas the total “potential” sentence reported by the media is 125 years.
I agree it would be a travesty for the judge to give this guy a 13-year sentence, but I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions about that being reality.
We shall see what penalty hizzoner sees fit to impose.
This case is so vital, and so important that the judge has seen fit to suspend the accused’s first amendment rights, why would he care about his rights under the eight amendment?
Anarcho-tyranny in action, plain and simple.
You are absolutely right about the sentence possibility probably being 'worst case - never going to happen.' I didn't read the article and see the $6k cleanup bill. I pictured more of a sidewalk chalk drawing gone with the next rain.
Threatening a defendant with obscenely long sentences is the government’s own version of jury nullification - forcing the defendant to take a plea and give up his right to a jury trial, in order to avoid that obscene sentence.
Nice plus mark for the prosecutor, a career builder, saves the state or the Feds the expense of a trial, admitted criminal serves six month to a year easy time.
What not to like? Aside from the harm done to the Constitution, common sense, justice, a level playing field...
“The evils of tyranny are rarely seen but by who resists it.”
— John Hay, 1872
“It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.”
— Voltaire (1694-1778)
Sounds to me like you got the opportunity to explain the concept to the other jurors.
Vandalism is destruction of property, so the perpetrator would be liable for compensating the victim for the amount destroyed and whatever fines or jail time connected with the act.
NOTHING was destroyed here, so this is a mega overreaction by the judge IMHO. It sound more like this guy is being made an example of for thumbing his nose at a big bank more than anything else.
Wonder who this judge does HIS banking with, anyway?
Don’t mention 1st A?
My next chalk missive will start and end with:
“1st Amendment, Free Speech”
Let hizonner try to exclude that!
I did pass 1st grade, including “Chalk Awareness Techniques”.