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Earlier this week, San Diego's City Attorney Jan Goldsmith issued a statement on the misinformation spread by the media in regards to the prosecution of a man for scribbling anti-bank statements in chalk on the sidewalk.

"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."

It was that last statement, the statement that the City Attorney isn't aware of some cases, including those involving the Occupy Wall Street movement, that deserves to be looked at more closely.

As to whether City Attorney Goldsmith was aware of the case, the Reader sent the City Attorney's Office questions about Olson's case back on May 31, 2013. Four days later, a spokesperson for the City Attorney's Office responded with a legal justification for prosecuting Jeff Olson.

The City Attorney and his office were also asked if there had been any other similar cases in recent years.

"There was a case, but it was dismissed by our office for lack of sufficient evidence," read the June 4 email.

The lawyer in that case, Jeremy Warren, says he remembers it much differently. Early last year, Warren defended a 19-year-old woman involved in the Occupy San Diego movement who was charged with vandalism for writing "Occupy San Diego" in chalk on a wall in the Civic Center plaza. The woman, who at the time went by the name Zenyatta, was arrested and transported to the Las Colinas Detention Facility. That's where she stayed for three days.

"I got arrested for, like, writing on the ground during Occupy," said Zenyatta in a February 2012 video posted on Tumblr. The officer arrested me and he told me about how much of a delinquent I was and then put me in jail. I didn't have enough money to pay for my bail. I basically served three days of prison time for drawing on the ground with chalk."

Warren, who defended the woman, remembers trying to strike a deal with the City.

"The City Attorney charged her with misdemeanor vandalism under the city’s municipal code," says Warren. "In trying to get them to dismiss the case, I was told in no uncertain terms that negotiations would be challenging because City Attorney Goldsmith was personally involved in the Occupy cases."

Things changed as the court date neared.

"As we got closer to trial, they offered to dismiss her case if she would do a few hours of community service," Warren says.

The Occupier, however, rejected the offer.

"It seemed like a good way for them to save face and for her to avoid the stress of trial, but she was adamant she could not accept any deal for exercising free speech," says Warren. "The night before trial, the City Attorney’s office finally relented and agreed to dismiss the charges outright."

See Doug Porter's article in the San Diego Free Press for more information on the case.

For more on Jeff Olson's case read these stories:

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SurfPuppy619 June 28, 2013 @ 4:26 p.m.

And it keeps getting worse for the Squirrel toupee man..


HonestGovernment June 28, 2013 @ 7:22 p.m.

Great reporting, Dorian. Will the jury come back on Monday?


nostalgic June 28, 2013 @ 8:37 p.m.

Mr. Goldsmith, it is time to let these chalkers go. Move on to something important. I hear children are setting up lemonade stands in various neighborhoods. Get on it! What else does the city attorney's office do? I thought they offer opinions, and respond to lawsuits against the city. This is the first I ever knew they had time to prosecute cases.


skinnerrick July 1, 2013 @ 7:27 p.m.

Here's what you don't know the City Attorney of San Diego prosecutes misdemeanors for the City of San Diego too. The problem is they can't figure out what is serious and what is stupid. Speaking of stupid...go see Judge Kirvin at East County. Here's a something else that will make you go hmmmm--Goldsmith also prosecutes for his old stomping ground, Poway, too.


SurfPuppy619 July 1, 2013 @ 8:24 p.m.

Goldsmith also prosecutes for his old stomping ground, Poway, too.

No he does not, the SD city attorney can prosecute only within SD CITY limits, and only misdemeanors. And VERY few city attorneys even prosecute misdemeanors. San Diego and LA are the only two cities I can think of right now that do it.


rdotinga July 2, 2013 @ 2:07 a.m.

Wrong. The San Diego city attorney prosecutes misdemeanors that happen in Poway: http://www.poway.org/Index.aspx?page=228

Don't know why or how the arrangement is funded, but that's the way it is. I think this arrangement pre-dates Goldsmith.


SurfPuppy619 July 2, 2013 @ 8:24 a.m.

That is not legal, have no idea why or how they are doing that but it is illegal.


rdotinga June 28, 2013 @ 10:40 p.m.

"The San Diego City Attorney has jurisdiction to prosecute all infraction and misdemeanor offenses arising out of city ordinances. In addition, with the district attorney's consent, the city attorney shares jurisdiction with the district attorney to prosecute misdemeanor violations of state law that have occurred within San Diego city limits. (Cal. Government Code, § § 41803.5, 72193; Charter of the City of San Diego, § § 40, 40.1.)"


Fred Williams June 29, 2013 @ 4:14 a.m.

Dorian Hargrove works hard at journalism, and wins international coverage for The Reader story he broke about Goldsmith prosecuting a man for protesting bank fraud using childrens chalk.

Randy Dotinga, down on his luck VOSD freelancer, feeling sorry for himself and his fading career, figures the only way he can get in on the story is to try to be a mouthpiece for Goldsmith.

My bet is that Dotinga is angling for a PR job with the City Attorney's office...


rdotinga July 2, 2013 @ 2:05 a.m.

Oh Fred. I've missed your ramblings from the alternate universe in which you live!


skinnerrick July 1, 2013 @ 7:30 p.m.

Are you sure this is with the District Attorney's consent? I though Bonnie Dumanis suggested her office would be more cost effective and Aguirre blew a gasket over it. Under what jurisdiction does San Diego City Attorney prosecute for Poway?


rdotinga July 2, 2013 @ 2:08 a.m.

See link above. City attorney only prosecutes misdemeanors for Poway.


photog921 June 28, 2013 @ 11:11 p.m.

Note to commenter above, commenter Nostalgic wrote "had time" not, "had the jurisdiction" to prosecute cases. Let's not be quite so literal.


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

I am not sure of your point? It sounds like splitting hairs? I'd like to see SDPD follow Goldsmith around and prosecute him every time he walks his dog without a leash or any other picky little thing.


Founder June 30, 2013 @ 8:59 a.m.

The question now is will yet another Chalk-In be part of the 30th on 30th Event tonight in North Park? Instead of BYOB everyone must remember to BYOC.


HonestGovernment June 30, 2013 @ 10:12 a.m.

Link to this excellent story about Dorian Hargrove's work on the Jeff Olson prosecution: http://tinyurl.com/p47bdyj

The entire nation gets to read about the political hack Jan Goldsmith.


skinnerrick July 1, 2013 @ 7:23 p.m.

I got prosecuted by Goldsmith for sending threatening emails. The problem is that the victim fabricated the evidence. I explained to Goldsmith, against may attorney's advice in the form of several letters explaining it. I suggested to Mr. Goldsmith that since the emails would have long-message headers for tracking and that google saved everything on a gmail account, that I could prove I did not send these emails as alleged.

It gets better. The accuser hired private counsel to quash my subpoena of the conclusive evidence. The Judge agreed that the subpoena for 3 months of emails was too broad. My attorney refused to correct the error so I subpoenaed the emails. Then Goldsmith dropped the charges allowing the false accuser to again object the subpoena. Goldsmith has no interest in truth or justice. He is bought and paid for as a politician. Aguire was part of the problem in not choosing his battles, but he is honest. My experience would say otherwise about Goldsmith.


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