Fully Informed Jury Association

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Jury Nullification | 01 Jul 2013

-Mayor Filner on Jury Nullification Plea for Sidewalk Chalker: No One Has Asked Me


The Fully Informed Jury Association does not advocate for or against any case in progress. We do, however, track and report on cases in which jury nullification is at issue. This article concerns a recent case in which Jeff Olson faces a maximum of 13 years in prison for writing political statements on a public sidewalk with water soluble chalk- an activity for which others making political statements have been given permission. Police have even given permission for Chalk-U-Py San Diego activists to chalk a 6 foot by 70 foot area outside the courthouse in Olson’s support.

Is it the mess or the message? City Attorney has been selective when prosecuting chalk vandalism

Is it the mess or is it the message?

Is it the fact that Olson’s message was a key tenet of the Occupy Wall Street movement or would it happen to any person or group wishing to exercise their free speech with a piece of washable chalk.

Those are questions that will likely remain unanswered long after the case of Jeff Olson, a San Diego man who is facing a maximum sentence of 13-years in jail for scribbling anti-Bank of America slogans outside of three bank branches over a five-month span, is decided.

As we reported on Friday, attorney Jeremy Warren was well aware of City Attorney’s Jan Goldsmith’s desire to prosecute Occupy San Diego participants.

“…I was told in no uncertain terms that negotiations would be challenging because City Attorney Goldsmith was personally involved in the Occupy cases.”

Goldsmith’s decision to prosecute Olson and the young Occupier who Warren represented, seems to go against what other groups with different message were told.

One such group, pro-life activists Live Action San Diego, organized a “Talk and Chalk” July 2011 protest outside of a local Planned Parenthood.

Mayor Filner recently held a public press conference calling for jury nullification in the victimless medical marijuana case of Ronnie Change.

On Friday, Mayor Bob Filner again expressed his disappointment with the case and the decision by the City Attorney to prosecute Olson.

“It looks like we were prosecuting someone at the insistence of Bank of America for writing political issues. I mean, it’s chalk. It’s washable chalk. It’s political slogans. We are not even responding to public complaints. They were complaints from Bank of America. I think it’s a stupid case and is costing us money. If these are the types of cases the City Attorney is prosecuting then I am not sure he needs as much money in his budget as he says he does.”

When asked if Filner is considering making a plea to jurors to acquit Olson in spite of his guilt, also known as jury nullification, the Mayor responded, “Nobody has asked me. Usually I respond when the attorney or the public ask me to get involved and no one has asked me.”