A protester is standing trial on criminal vandalism charges in San Diego, and faces a sentence of up to 13 years in prison if convicted, for a scribbling a series of anti-bank slogans in chalk on a city sidewalk.
Mayor Bob Filner has denounced the prosecution of Jeff Olson, 40, a man with no previous criminal record, as a waste of taxpayer money and an abuse of power that infringes on First Amendment free speech protections in the U.S. Constitution.
"This young man is being persecuted for thirteen counts of vandalism stemming from an expression of political protest that involved washable children's chalk on a city sidewalk," the mayor said last week in a memo to the City Council.
The city attorney, Jan Goldsmith, defended his pursuit of the case in remarks published on Thursday in the U-T San Diego news website, saying: "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," Goldsmith added. "That would be wrong under the law and such a practice by law enforcement would change our society in very damaging ways."
~ from San Diego Protester Faces Vandalism Charges for Sidewalk Chalk Drawings by Marty Graham ~
This is absolutely ridiculous! I'm not talking about the supposed "crime" and potentially lengthy sentence, though both of those are ridiculous too. No, I'm referring to the city attorney's silly statement.
The very idea that a prosecutor (or city attorney) doesn't have any discretion in who he/she prosecutes is laughable, though not so much for one Jeff Olsen. We live in a nation where rampant criminality in Washington D.C. is no cause for charges, let alone investigation. We live in a nation in which major financial institutions have been allowed to foreclose on people's homes illegally and they were provided with a free pass by the Obama administration. We live in a nation in which spy agencies can thumb their noses at the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution without the slightest bit of worry that any legal trouble will stem from it.
I bet that, if we were to take a look at all the potential crimes that have crossed city attorney Jan Goldsmith's desk, we would find many that he has chosen NOT to prosecute. So, to say that he has no discretion, is a BIG FAT LIE. Unless the man is a complete doofus, he damn well knows it!