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New Yuppers... we're a nation of laws all right
and if some quaint document like the constitution or bill of rights allows something big money has issues with, the government, a wholly owned subsidiary of big money, will pass a law countermanding that something. The law is valid until the Supremes sing on it and say it isn't. But the Supremes won't sing unless big money asks them to, and then they just do what they're told, by all evidence. "We'll fix it! Kick it back to Congress! In between trying to overthrow Obamacare, they'll keep trying to pass abortive measures against the people when they are not trying to get rid of abortion..."

The law is a joke. And people (right wingers mostly) wonder why others don't respect it. To quote a scholar: meh.
New Really?
This chalk case defense strikes me as uncomfortably similar to those who argue that they can't be required to pay federal income tax because they've declared themselves to be a "Freeman". It's bogus. He wasn't charged with slander or defamation or the like - he was charged with damaging their property.

A trial judge has to determine what is relevant in his or her court. Every case isn't about constitutional rights, and permitting that as an automatic part of every defense would make a circus of court proceedings.

https://www.youtube....tch?v=ROxvT8KKdFw (SFW) (2:49) (start at 0:59). (Yeah, I note that it can be used to support his side, too. ;-)

FWIW. :-)

New Re: Really?
Chalk on the sidewalk isn't vandalism. The next rain or incontinent animal will take it away. It's not damage in any real sense. The law in the banks sense (the only one that applies here) is that it was damaging in that it offended their sensibilities; sorta like slander or defamation or the like. So he'll get more time than the bankers who stole my and a whole stack of other peoples 401K's and retirement savings. You're right: the law is clearly balanced.
Now lecture me on not saving properly for my retirement. It'll just finish the kabuki properly.
New Two things
First, it wasn't their property, it was the sidewalk.

Second, engaging in public speech was precisely and explicitly *why* he was writing on the sidewalk. Saying that the vandalism law didn't mention the first amendment is like saying the "back of the bus" law didn't mention civil rights.

New Dunno.
First, it wasn't their property, it was the sidewalk.

Who owns the sidewalk doesn't matter according to San Diego's law: http://www.sandiego....bout/issues.shtml

Second, engaging in public speech was precisely and explicitly *why* he was writing on the sidewalk. Saying that the vandalism law didn't mention the first amendment is like saying the "back of the bus" law didn't mention civil rights.

Maybe, but that would seem to make free speech a defense in any graffiti case. I don't think your Rosa Parks analogy works here. :-)

Reading the previous SD Reader story - http://www.sandiegor...rosecutes-man-fo/ - it sounds like much more is going on here than just a vandalism case. Freeman seemingly wants to crucify Olson and is using the vandalism laws to do so. (But see below.)

I expect Olson will be found guilty and have to pay a few thousand dollars for the "damage" at the 3 banks in 13 incidents (hence the 13 counts and potential $13k fine and potential 13 years). He shouldn't get jail time.


Olson told KGTV that one of the branches had claimed it cost them $6,000 to clean up the water-soluble chalk writing.

[ Say $100 an hour for people and equipment? 3 locations, 13 incidents, 6000/13 = 4.5 person-hours each? Alternatively, $6000 x 3 / 13 = $1385 each? Maybe high, but maybe not. http://www.ehow.com/...alk-concrete.html ]

UPDATE: 6/26 -- The San Diego City Attorney's office emails along a statement on the case of People v. Olson:

1. This is a graffiti case where the defendant is alleged to have engaged in the conduct on 13 different occasions. The trial judge has already held that, under California law, it is still graffiti even if the material can be removed with water. Most graffiti can be removed. Also, the judge and a different pre-trial judge held that the First Amendment is not a defense to vandalism/graffiti.

2. The defense is trying to make this case into a political statement, which it is not. This is just one of some 20,000 criminal cases that are referred to us annually by the police department. We have prosecutors who decide whether to issue cases. They are professionals. The City Attorney was not involved in deciding whether to issue this case as is typical practice in prosecution offices for most cases. He hadn't heard of this case until it was in the media.

3. The defense is whipping up hysteria about the prospect of 13 years in custody. This is not a 13 year custody case. It is a standard graffiti case compounded by the fact that the defendant is alleged to have done it on 13 separate occasions. Because there were 13 different occasions when the defendant allegedly engaged in the conduct, the law requires them to be set out separately in the complaint. This increases the maximum sentence, but it still is a graffiti case and nothing more. The courts routinely hear graffiti cases and handle them appropriately using judicial discretion.

4. It is not unusual for victims to contact police or prosecutors about a case. Our prosecutors are trained to focus only on their ethical standards in deciding whether to file a case.

5. We prosecute vandalism and theft cases regardless of who the perpetrator or victim might be. We don't decide, for example, based upon whether we like or dislike banks. That would be wrong under the law and such a practice by law enforcement would change our society in very damaging ways.

(Emphasis added.)


We'll see what happens, I guess.

New This is *not* a slippery slope
"Maybe, but that would seem to make free speech a defense in any graffiti case."

You don't see a material difference between putting your name on an overpass, and writing criticism of a bank in front of that bank?

I'm not saying it's unreasonable to charge him with vandalism (though I don't think that's a slam-dunk either), I'm saying that the *reason he did it* matters, *especially* because that reason is constitutionally protected.

New We'll have to agree to disagree.
I don't think his reason is a defense any more than a "Freeman" claiming a constitutional right not to pay taxes is a defense. I just don't.

I may well be wrong about this, but I don't think so.

The SPLC has a decent summary of earlier cases - http://www.splc.org/wordpress/?p=3546

There is a surprisingly robust legal history about sidewalk chalk as a medium of expression, most of it unfavorable to the chalkers.

In one of the earliest cases, McKinney v. Nielsen, a federal appeals court decided in 1995 that Berkeley, Calif., police lacked grounds to arrest an activist who disobeyed an order to stop writing an anti-police message on the sidewalk.

Although the “auteur” was charged under a city ordinance against defacing property, the chalking ended up being tangential to the case. The evidence established that the officers really arrested Christopher McKinney because he disobeyed an order to immediately drop his chalk — he kept writing long enough to stroke an underline — and because he back-talked the officers. Neither, in the view of the California-based Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, gave police probable cause to make an arrest.

Except for last week’s [April 2012] Orlando ruling, courts have been generally unsympathetic to claims that chalking on public property is protected First Amendment expression.

* In Lederman v. Giuliani, a federal district court upheld the constitutionality of a New York City ordinance making it a crime to “write, paint or draw any inscription, figure or mark of any type on any public or private building or other structure,” including sidewalks. In a 2001 order, the court summarily threw out the constitutional claims of several street vendors who challenged the prohibition; the vendors prevailed, however, on their primary claim that the city could not require a permit to sell art or books on the street.

* In Mahoney v. Doe, a federal appeals court ruled last July that it was constitutional to prohibit demonstrators from chalking on the sidewalk across the street from the White House under a District of Columbia ordinance that bans writing, drawing or painting “any word, sign or figure” on public property without consent. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that the ordinance served a “significant” government interest (“the esthetic appearance of the street in front of the White House”), and left open reasonable alternative means of communication — the challenger had, in fact, obtained a demonstration permit that allowed the use of signs and banners.

* In Occupy Minneapolis v. County of Hennepin, a federal district court applied the same analysis as the Mahoney court, ruling in November that an unwritten county policy against chalking public sidewalks did not restrict the content of speech, and was justified by the “aesthetic interest” in maintaining a clean appearance at the county government plaza. The court noted that Occupy protesters had — and used — ample alternative forms of expression, including signs and leaflets, that required no marking of public property.


New Reuters has more...


The mayor's office would not rule out the possibility that Filner might appear as a witness for Olson.

The Olson case has become the latest flashpoint in a deepening rift between Filner and Goldsmith, who was elected city attorney under the former mayor by promising to improve the office's ability to work with the city's top elected official.

The mayor and city attorney have clashed over medical marijuana dispensary crackdowns, tourism district funds, bond issues and the mayor's recent successful effort to cut $500,000 from the city attorney's budget.

Recall that Olson worked on Filner's campaign...


The judge put a gag order in place, so we may not hear more until the trial is over.

     no freeze peaches for you - (boxley) - (11)
         Hmm... Is that even constitutional? - (CRConrad) - (9)
             Use the source, Luke! - (Another Scott) - (8)
                 Yuppers... we're a nation of laws all right - (hnick) - (7)
                     Really? - (Another Scott) - (6)
                         Re: Really? - (hnick)
                         Two things - (drook) - (4)
                             Dunno. - (Another Scott) - (3)
                                 This is *not* a slippery slope - (drook) - (2)
                                     We'll have to agree to disagree. - (Another Scott) - (1)
                                         Reuters has more... - (Another Scott)
         Under our law, all are equal and some more so. -NT - (mmoffitt)

Looks like a helluva party to me! Begone evil spirits!!
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