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With each of the 13 "not guilty" verdicts, defense attorney Tom Tosdal grabbed Jeff Olson's shoulder in a sign of support and relief. On Monday, jurors rejected all 13-counts of vandalism charges filed against Olson for scribbling anti-Bank of America messages in water soluble chalk.

It was a good day for Olson and Tosdal and for free-speech supporters across the country.

Not so much so for San Diego's City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, his office, and for Superior Court Judge Howard Shore.

After the verdicts were read, Judge Shore explained the reasoning behind his decision to bar Tosdal from using first amendment rights as a defense as well as for placing a gag order on the defendant prohibiting him from speaking to the media.

"The media set the tone in this case by talking about a potential 13-year sentence. It had a tendency to infuriate the public instead of informing it. Anyone in the system, the lawyers and anyone involved, knew that maximum sentence would never be handed out but still it was reported."

Outside the courtroom Paige Hazard, the lead prosecutor on the case, also dismissed media reports and blamed Olson for turning down what she said were fair plea offers.

Hazard's comments were later backed-up by an official statement from the City Attorney's Office which criticized Olson for forcing the City's hand and taking the case to trial.

"As with most graffiti cases, Mr. Olson was offered reduction to an infraction after completing volunteer work service cleaning up graffiti," read the statement. "His refusal resulted in the trial and his successful defense."

Looking at those offers, however, fair is one of the last words that comes to mind.

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."

Olson refused.

So on June 18, as the June 25 trial date neared, Hazard offered Olson another deal.

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.

"I didn't see how that was fair," said Olson a few hours after the trial. "Why should I have to give up my license for two-years and serve 3-years probation just for exercising my first amendment rights? It's sad to see the City Attorney's Office now laying the blame on me for wasting taxpayer resources. It was their decision to take this to court, not mine."

Olson, able to speak freely without fear of violating Judge Shore's gag order, said the whole thing was never supposed to go this far.

"All I wanted to do was ask that people invest in San Diego, not some big Wall Street bank based in Charlotte, North Carolina. For me, it's the same when it comes to simple things like beer or produce. I choose to keep my money locally. I say that proudly, a Stone Craft beer in hand. I choose to buy my produce at the local farmer's market, not some major supermarket. These are fairly simple choices that can help build a sustainable economy here, in San Diego."

In the coming days, Olson is planning a trip back to his hometown of Portland.

It won't be the last time you hear from him. Olson will appear on Mornings with Chip and LaDona at 7:05am tomorrow, and will call into KPBS Midday Edition with his lawyer Tosdal at noon. Lastly, and most importantly...of course...Olson will be featured in a July 3 cover story in the Reader.

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HonestGovernment July 1, 2013 @ 6:05 p.m.

Wow. Unbelievable to ask Olson to surrender his driver's license. Fair? NO! Outrageous and over-reaching. Thanks for the story, one that we'd never know if not for your report.


SurfPuppy619 July 1, 2013 @ 6:06 p.m.

"As with most graffiti cases, Mr. Olson was offered reduction to an infraction after completing volunteer work service cleaning up graffiti," read the statement. "His refusal resulted in the trial and his successful defense." You NEVER take a case to trial you CANNOT win-ever. Squirrel Toupee had NO chance of wnning, 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)


Jimgee July 3, 2013 @ 3:23 p.m.

If this report is complete and correct, then the judge's license to practice law should be carefully reviewed, and the city attorney should be recalled from office.


Fred Williams July 3, 2013 @ 8:37 p.m.

SurfPuppy, you need to get your facts straight!

That's NOT a Squirrel Toupee he's wearing, and you of all people should know better. That dead thing on top of Goldsmith's head is 100% FERRET.

Back when Goldsmith was still rational, and served in the California Assembly, he very sensibly put forward a bill to legalize Ferrets in the state...like neighboring states had done long ago.

Willie Brown, the self-styled Ayatollah of the Assembly, declared that Ferret Legalization bill was as dead as the thing on Goldsmith's head.

So, from that time forward, all well meaning people have agreed that Goldsmith wears ferret. Not mink, not moose, and certainly not squirrel.

I expect a prompt retraction of your libelous squirrel related accusations, Mister, or I might just have to charge you with 13 counts of something I'll totally make up.


SurfPuppy619 July 3, 2013 @ 8:51 p.m.

LOL!!!!! Funniest part-True story!........CA is one of only 2 states where ferrets are illegal, but I know people who have them...


nostalgic July 1, 2013 @ 6:19 p.m.

A vote of confidence for the jury system, who understand what was going on in spite of all the squelched evidence. Also, all the commenters who posted detailed data to support the defendant - Dorian has the best commenters anywhere. And congratulations to Dorian for making the national news!


Visduh July 1, 2013 @ 7:38 p.m.

Why the muted headline? I'd have expected something like "ACQUITTED ON ALL 13 COUNTS, DEFENDANT WINS FOR FREE SPEECH." Then a subheadline with "Will he sue Goldsmith's butt?" Actually, if he doesn't go for redress, the embarrassment value for the hapless city attorney will be sharply reduced. The comic opera aspects of this are just unprecedented. (And that's saying a lot.)

What I have trouble with is the judge's comments in court regarding the publicity that attends this screwball case. Instead of calling Goldy's minions in to a conference in chambers and telling them that they had best move to dismiss, he rode the bronc right down to the final ending, and has now made himself look like the fool he obviously is. It is going to be SOOO interesting to see the fallout from this supposedly minor trial. We can hope, while remembering that nothing is quite as it seems.


Visduh July 1, 2013 @ 8:19 p.m.

The Mill, alias UT, has a fairly balanced story on the website in regard to this outcome. The comments, all dutifully identified by Facebook, run to the direction of Goldy having really blown it. There is even mention of some sort of "chalk-in" on Saturday at all or most local BofA branches. At this point, if the BofA could vaporize that security chief who kept pressing for a prosecution, they would. If you ever thought large corporations could do no wrong, just look at this. The rotten publicity that BofA is getting out of this is costly, very costly, and worse yet, they are provoking laughter. Major heartburn and a very red corporate face. Almost like the old days of the 70's. Who'd a thunk it?


SurfPuppy619 July 1, 2013 @ 8:32 p.m.

Olson can't sue Squirrel Toupee, but he can sue SDPD, and I suggest he do so, as that will stop Squirrel Toupee from pulling this stunt again in the future on another innocent citizen. If Olson doesn't sue we can all expect this harassment to keep happening.......


fredjones2005 July 1, 2013 @ 8:36 p.m.

The city would be smart to just pay Olson off now. This is going to be a payday for Olson if he is smart.

A civil lawsuit is a slam dunk and going to court will allow discovery, more stuff is going to come out and the hole Goldsmith is in will look like the Grand Canyon.


BlueSouthPark July 1, 2013 @ 9:54 p.m.

But the City Atty and Council can't even discuss it in closed session, because Goldy is punishing Filner by cancelling all closed sessions untill Bob kisses Goldy's butt and apologizes.


Nick_Hentoff July 2, 2013 @ 6:18 a.m.

Judge Howard Shore is dead wrong. Not a single media report ever said it was likely that Olson would be sentenced to 13 years in prison but that is the possible sentenced he faced under California law. Judge Shore had the discretion, under California law to sentence Olson to 13 years in prison and a $13,000 fine for exercising his First Amenment rights.

The fact that such a sentence was unlikely, or that he never intended to impose such a draconian sentence, is besides the point. It was possible, and would have been legal which is what fueled the outrage. His self-serving post-verdict rationalizations are meant to mask the fact that he made a mockery of the Constitution by becoming the first judge in the United States to issue an order specifically prohibiting the words ree Speech"and First Amendment¨ from being mentioned in a court room and then issuing a general media gag order. His insinuation that the jury was influenced by media publicity is an insult to the jurors and the entire jury system.

If the City Attorney didn´t intend for such a draconian sentence to be a available to the judge as a sentencing option, than why did they overcharge the case in the first place? Because Jan Goldsmithś intent was to send a message to protestors that dissent the establishment finds offensivewill be suppressed with the full force of the law. But it is the people who sent a message to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith and Judge Howard Shore. Both should be removed from office at the voters earliest opportunity.



zollner July 2, 2013 @ 8:20 a.m.

BofA wanted a return on their investment from "rug head", from my understanding the bank contributed lots of money to his campaign to get elected DA.

The judge's reasons for the gag order and 1st Amendment defense not being allowed made absolutely no sense.

On several web sites they gave out the judges phone # and address along with "rug heads", I hope they got plenty of calls and letters


HonestGovernment July 2, 2013 @ 9:41 a.m.

Local Ch 10 reported last night that they checked to see if BofA gave to Goldsmith's campaign and said that they found no record of it. Given Ch 10's competiton w/KUSI for best anti-Filner reporting, I don't know how much I believe anything they report.


Hardcover July 2, 2013 @ 8:22 a.m.

No wonder the judge asked for a gag order. If the jury had possibly known that the plea "bargain" included 3 years of losing his drivers license then any fool, even the City Attorney kind, would have known the outcome. Is that a common thing to ask for, in non-auto related cases? Or did they just add that to make it a wee bit crueler? I see people every day who should lose their licenses, like that dude who passed me in the middle turn lane last night at 11pm, going about 70 in a 35 zone, and then ran the red light.


Dorian Hargrove July 2, 2013 @ 8:34 a.m.

Hardcover, I am trying to find out more about the DL suspension. I heard that it had something to do with graffiti vandalism. Also heard that Goldsmith had something to do with drafting the law while on the State Assembly. Haven't found anything to back that up yet. I will keep digging. --dh


Dorian Hargrove July 2, 2013 @ 10:31 a.m.

Apparently, Goldsmith helped make vandalism/graffiti a moving violation to deter teens from tagging.--dh


jdadian July 2, 2013 @ 11:26 a.m.

California Driver Handbook - Actions That Result in Loss of Driver License Vandalism/Graffiti— All Ages

California law allows the courts to suspend the driver license for up to two years of a person convicted of engaging in vandalism, including graffiti. If you are convicted and do not have a driver license, the courts can delay the issuance of your driver license for up to three years from the date you are legally eligible to drive.


Hooligan July 9, 2013 @ 4 p.m.

It's not just the loss of your driver's license for no particular reason. What is totally outrageous is the loss of Voting Rights for no reason whatsoever except to disenfranchise more of the poor and minorites who are so very disproportionately targeted by the criminal justice system.


BlueSouthPark July 2, 2013 @ 11:37 a.m.

Would love to know if Goldy helped craft a Cali law. Such laws are considered across the board to have negative impacts and to be a waste of government resources. Punitive suspension of DLs for "social non-conformance" reached such a level of abuse in recent years that law enforcement, AAA, insurance companies, and NHTSA worked to stop it. Goldy and team obviously don't keep up-to-date on their CLE:






BlueSouthPark July 2, 2013 @ 11:48 a.m.

Would love to know if Goldy helped craft a Cali law. Such laws are considered across the board to have negative impacts and to be a waste of government resources. Punitive suspension of DLs for "social non-conformance" reached such a level of abuse in recent years that law enforcement, AAA, insurance companies, and NHTSA worked to stop it. Goldy and team obviously don't keep up-to-date on their CLE: http://tinyurl.com/kl3ku4e http://tinyurl.com/kmxmwyf http://tinyurl.com/mdu6nc6 http://tinyurl.com/mj266wp


Founder July 2, 2013 @ 10:39 a.m.

Chalk One Up For Freedom In $an Diego

Living in San Diego is now a bit more free because Olsen, his lawyer and all of US that dare to speak out in support of all our right to speak out in public!

Mayor Filner should give Olsen a medal and create a Olsen Day ...


SurfPuppy619 July 2, 2013 @ 12:21 p.m.

What Filner should do is CUT another $500K out of Squirrel Toupee's budget, as he obviously has too much money to spend if he is wasting San Diego's precious legal resources on this kind of nonsense [bullshit]........


nostalgic July 2, 2013 @ 3:22 p.m.

This is still a "top ten" story on MSN. Dorian Hargrove and The Reader hit the big time!


beluosus July 2, 2013 @ 3:43 p.m.

Thank you Dorian for your wonderful reporting. I'm looking forward to your July 4th article. For those interested couple of links: KPBS midday edition interview with Jeff Olson & attorney http://kpbs.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/audio/2013/07/02/130702ChalkProtest.mp3

The lovely ballad of Jeff Olson http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxBoBEEVfF4


HonestGovernment July 2, 2013 @ 4:24 p.m.

"waive all Fourth Amendment rights guarding against search and seizures"

This horrific "deal" deserves more attention. The DL suspension threat pales in comparison. The extreme nature of this Constitutional infringement makes it pretty clear that the heavy-handed charges had to be taken very seriously.

It's a shameful dodge for the judge to complain that "The media set the tone in this case by talking about a potential 13-year sentence. It had a tendency to infuriate the public instead of informing it. Anyone in the system, the lawyers and anyone involved, knew that maximum sentence would never be handed out but still it was reported."

The tone was set by Goldsmith's DCA's overreaching charges. That's what infuriated the people who read about this prosecution, not headlines detailing the charges.

By the way, Judge Shore, all of us in the lay public are not "anyone in the system." When we are told by government lawyers that we are being charged with 13 counts and 13 years, we don't laugh and shrug it off with your kind of insider understanding. Those were the charges and that's what was reported. Next time, Judge, tell the attorneys to drop the threats and thus the leverage and then there won't be any headlines to embarrass them and you.


hubcap July 3, 2013 @ 6:13 a.m.

There is so much wrong with this, I don't even know where to start. every day it seems like there is some new revelation that we are inching ever more closely to the kind of police state where we are granted the mere illusion of freedom by our betters.

Judges, prosecutors, and everyone in government need to understand that they are NOT our parents doling out privilege as they see fit. We, the People run this place and if we don't want a law enforced or a particular person convicted, then it is simply their job to comply with our wishes.

Judge shore comments that the maximum sentence would never be imposed, and blames the media for misreporting. From his insular and powerful insider position, that may be so but we mere proles don't know that. That is simply the guy aiming the gun saying "I never intended to pull the trigger."

And then there is that hideous excuse for a "deal"; thousands in restitution, probation, community service, (Seriously, Mr Olson has already served his community way above and beyond the call.) and a DL suspension! These "laws" are just a mockery of the Constitution as are many of the people who attempt to enforce them.

It is clear as day what the case was REALLY about; and it wasn't vandalism.


RhettMicheletti July 4, 2013 @ 1:04 p.m.

If we cherish the right to free speech, then we have an obligation to remove anyone from a position of authority when they deny the public that right.

Sign and share the petition on Change.org that seeks to remove the officials who betrayed their civic obligation and the trust of the people by attempting to deny a man's right to free speech.



Hooligan July 9, 2013 @ 3:55 p.m.

There is an epidemic in this country of laws being passed restricting our Constitutional rights using various excuses, particularly national security. These new laws have one thing in common: Outrageous Sentences! These sentences are totally punitive and have nothing to do with the "non-crime" that was committed. (e.g. 3 years in prison for 3 joints in your pocket, loss of your voting rights for just about any offense.) Make no mistake. These sentences ARE being handed out by over-zealous judges or judges forced into it by minimum sentencing laws. As with most things these days these laws are the resulting of big money lobbying by corporations like Bank of America and the Private Prison Industrial Complex. Also just like always these laws are enforced in an entirely discriminatory manner with minorities and the poor being targeted in totally disproportionate numbers.


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