The latest case in point is a California case in which a citizen is being tried in court on charges that state prosecutors say could land him in prison for 13 years. His crime? He engaged in propagating negative messages about the Bank of America.
The Bank of America, it is to be remembered, was one of the large financial institutions that received tax payer funded bailouts in order to stay afloat in 2008-09. According to financial expert and talk radio host Dave Ramsey, Bank of America is one of the most inept and poorly managed banks in the country, along with Morgan Chase, Citigroup, and Goldman Sachs.
As an individual citizen who is endowed with the unalienable right of free speech, California resident Jeff Olson began scrawling anti-megabank messages in water soluble chalk on sidewalks last year in San Diego. For this he was charged with vandalism.
But before the trial got underway Judge Howard Shore granted a motion from the state prosecutor that would forbid Olson's attorney from using the Constitutional right of free speech as a defense of his client.
Olson's attorney, thus, is now prevented from using the First Amendment, free speech, free expression, expressive conduct, public forum, or political speech as a defense of his client against the charges brought against him. Olson now must stand trial on 13 counts of vandalism, which, if convicted, could result in a 13 year prison sentence.