Chalk up a victory

You remember Jeff Olson, right? He’s the guy who chalked some protest statements on the sidewalks outside Bank of America, and got the book thrown at him.

Well, that book is now out of print:

A jury Monday acquitted a 40-year-old man of all charges connected with writing protest messages in chalk on the sidewalk outside branches of the Bank of America.

Deliberating for only a few hours, the jury apparently agreed with Filner — declaring Jeff Olson not guilty on all 13 misdemeanor counts.

That’s Mayor Bob Filner, who didn’t think much of this case:

The case has exacerbated the already tense relationship between Mayor Bob Filner, who called the case “stupid” and a “waste of money,” and City Atty. Jan Goldsmith, who defended it as a legitimate prosecution for graffiti vandalism.

Paige Hazard, lead prosecutor, seemed incensed that Olson didn’t accept a plea bargain:

On May 16, Hazard told Olson the City would drop the case if he agreed to serve 32 hours of community service, attend an 8-hour seminar by the “Corrective Behavior Institute,” pay Bank of America $6,299 in restitution for the clean-up, waive all Fourth Amendment rights guarding against search and seizures, and surrender his driver’s license for three year period.”

Perhaps suspecting that the “Corrective Behavior Institute” might be using something like Ludovico’s technique, Olson declined, and Hazard made a second offer:

Olson would plead guilty to one count of vandalism, agree to serve three years probation, pay restitution — amount undetermined, spend 24-hours cleaning up graffiti, and surrender his driver’s license for 2 years.

Still undetermined: whether Olsen is interested in, um, payback. Says one San Diego Reader commenter:

Squirrel Toupee [presumably Jan Goldsmith] had NO chance of winning, yet went to trial. Jeff Olson now has a right to sue the SDPD in federal court for violating his 1st, 4th and 14 Amendment rights. Good job Squirrel Toupee you just cost the city tens of thousands in a civil judgment and hundreds of thousands in legal fees as Squirrel Toupee will be forced to pay Olson’s attorney fees in any civil rights judgment (42 USC 1983, 1988).

If there’s a suit, there will be Squirrel Toupee.

(Via the Consumerist.)

Addendum: Bill Quick observes: “[I]t looks as if the real vindication was of this guy’s anti-BofA message: BofA is obviously too big if it has the San Diego DA doing its bidding like some kind of bitch.”


  1. McGehee »

    3 July 2013 · 7:12 am

    Prosecutors are supposed to be harsh on defendants (though yes, good judgment is also required).

    The judge in this case, on the other hand, should be disbarred.

  2. Charles Pergiel »

    3 July 2013 · 8:37 am

    All this makes me wonder what was going on in their heads. I’m thinking there must be some kind of diseased group think going on in the prosecutor’s office.

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