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The trial in the case of the man who wrote protest slogans in children's washable chalk on a public sidewalk outside of three Bank of America branches has begun. The case has started more than one year after Olson made the initial temporary tag.

Attorneys for both sides made their opening arguments.

But before they did Judge Howard Shore instructed them on their duty and expected behavior as jurors.

"We live in an age of incredible technology and we have become an extremely impatient society," Shore told jurors about the need to stay away from online media reports. "I have no idea what's coming. I do need to tell you to not read any media accounts...Half the time the media gets it wrong anyways."

After Shore's instructions, Deputy City Attorney Paige Hazard gave her opening arguments to the twelve jurors.

"This case is simply about playing by the rules. The vandalism in this case occurred over a five-month span at three bank branches. The size of these markings varied from the width of an ATM to the length of six parking lots, sometimes even blanketing the entire sidewalk."

Hazard explained the impact that the markings had on bank staff as well as the frustration that Bank of America's Vice President of Security had towards Olson after their initial meeting (read about that here).

Then attorney Tom Tosdal spoke for Olson, continuing to point fingers at City Attorney Jan Goldsmith for wasting City and court resources at the expense of the First Amendment. "This is government overreaching to the extreme," said Tosdal. "Let me say that this is not the 'People against Mr. Olson'. This is the City Attorney against Mr. Olson...wrote protest messages on a public sidewalk. He did it in plain view with cameras pointing directly at him. He did it to inform the public. He did it in an open and proud manner."

Hazard then called the City's first witness, an assistant manager at the North Park branch. The testimony, however, was postponed until tomorrow morning's session.

While that was happening the City Attorney's Office appeared to be doing some clean-up of its own after national media outlets were turned on to the story. The office issued a statement to the press and as a response to those writing in with objections about the case.

"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," read the statement.

"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."

The trial will resume tomorrow at 9am at the downtown courthouse.

Olson will be featured in a July 4 Cover Story in the Reader. Previous statements from the City Attorney and the Mayor will be included.

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Comments

nostalgic June 26, 2013 @ 6:56 p.m.

This story posted on the Drudge Report, 464 comments and growing, Dorian your story is EVERYWHERE:

http://rt.com/usa/california-man-13-prison-banks-237/

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SurfPuppy619 June 26, 2013 @ 10:35 p.m.

Up to 518 comments, every single one I read (25) were negative, mentioning "Hitler"......"apex of absurdity. asinine"......"epitomized the control state"...Ouchie!

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HonestGovernment June 26, 2013 @ 7:17 p.m.

"Half the time the media gets it wrong anyways"? Anyways? Oh well, in San Diego, that 50% is owned by the UT, which finally decided to report on this, primarily to smooth out the bad PR for Goldsmith. Courtesy of the Texas Watchdog alumnus. Welcome to California, Trent! And to Lynchester World.

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rdotinga June 26, 2013 @ 7:29 p.m.

So the U-T "decided to report on this to smooth out the bad PR for Goldsmith."

Golly. The third paragraph of the story sure looks like a Goldsmith whitewash:

"If the city loses the case, it might be chalked up to jurors who question if the city should be spending taxpayer money bringing charges against someone who plied his activism -- or vandalism -- using something that can be easily washed away with a hose."

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Visduh June 26, 2013 @ 7:54 p.m.

The smartest thing that Goldsmith could now do would be to move for dismissal. But now that he has his neck bowed and has put his dubious prestige on the line, he can't do that. So, we all may be treated to the spectacle of him going down in flames of his own making.

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monaghan June 26, 2013 @ 9:34 p.m.

Where is the kerosene? Goldsmith has lost whatever political touch he once may have had. I cannot see anything good for him in this trial -- unless Filner or Aguirre step in to save him. Great story, Dorian.

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SurfPuppy619 June 26, 2013 @ 10:37 p.m.

Filner must have a smile a mile wide right now as Mr Squirrel Toupee is flaming out....

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Don Bauder June 27, 2013 @ 10:19 a.m.

SurfPup: Filner has reason to smile. Goldsmith's arrogance and ignorance is right out in the open for all to see. The Union-Tribune has a poll this morning (June 27). An overwhelming 88% oppose this prosecution as of 10:19 this morning. Read the comments to the Drudge Report. There are hundreds of them -- overwhelmingly expressing outrage and disgust at San Diego. Best, Don Bauder

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BlueSouthPark June 27, 2013 @ 10:53 a.m.

Yes, SurfP! Perfect timing, with Mayor Filner's budget cut to CA's office and the failure of Todd Gloria to force a reinstatement. Just perfect.

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Ratpuppy June 28, 2013 @ 8:44 p.m.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith: Office Phone: (619) 236-6220 Fax: (619) 236-7215 E-mail: cityattorney@sandiego.gov

Judge Howard H.Shore: (Honorable??? REALLY???) Clerk: James Walsh (619) 450-5015 (Courtroom) Main Courthouse SECOND FLOOR 220 W. Broadway San Diego, CA 92101

Maybe the good citizens of San Diego, California and everyone else can start informing these Nazis that no American has the right to turn their back on the Constitution... Especially if it is to carry water for the Banking Empire. I would ask them why they hate the people of San Diego, and why do they hate America? I would also let them know that the gag order was slammed on this case too late, and that their nefarious scheme has already been exposed, so they'd better figure out how to do undo their damage and apologise for betraying their office before the next election!

Fill their voice mail, their inboxes and their fax machines! Let them know that the jig is up! The only thing these thugs understand is power. Show them that they get theirs ONLY from the will of the people!

The defense may not be allowed to use that pesky Constitution to support the truth, but if I were the defendant, I would answer every prosecution question that smells at all like an accusation of malice with "I wasn't acting against the bank or it's employees, I was only attempting to educate the public under my First Amendment rights." Then when the judge loses it, calmly inform him that you can only defend yourself with the truth. State of Mind issues like Malice are very hard to prove, yet MUST be in this case for the jury to come back with a guilty verdict.

And if City Attorney Jan Goldsmith really has no knowledge of the cases prosecuted by his office, then he is simply too negligent of an office that has obviously been allowed to spin wildly out of control under his watch!

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ejs June 29, 2013 @ 11:15 p.m.

How is it possibly relevant that some Bank of America apparatchik was "frustrated?" As far as I'm concerned that opened the door to permit the defense to talk about the First Amendment. I can't decide if the statement from the City Attorney's office is pure BS or hogwash. What a travesty.

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