Attorney Defending Police Who Arrested Gay Man at Pride Running out of Options

Will Walters (Photo: Vito Di Stefano)

'I just want my life back:' Will Walters, following five years trying to have his day in court.

Victor Hoff's article in the last issue of LGBT Weekly lays bare the legal acrobatics San Diego's city attorney has been performing for years as he continues trying to keep Will Walters' civil rights case against the city's Police Department from the discerning eyes and ears of a jury.

For Walters, the legal machinations of City Attorney Jan Goldsmith's office and those of his deputy, Bonnie Hsu, are reminiscent of what happened when, wearing more than enough clothing at the 2011 San Diego Pride festival in the form of a leather kilt and underwear to be called anything but nude, he asked the officers what part of his body was in fact nude.

From Hoff's piece in LGBT Weekly:

"At this point, Walters pressed the officers to tell him what he needed to cover up in order to be compliant. A back-and-forth ensued. 'I was begging him to tell me what needed to be covered up.' None of the police apparently could identify what, specifically, Walters needed to do so they suggested he go home and change. Within minutes, Will was handcuffed, placed in the back of a patrol car and spent the next 24 hours in jail."

After Hoff's article published, City Attorney Goldsmith himself took to the comments section of the Web version of the article. In one of many tit-for-tat posts between the city attorney and the article's author, Goldsmith said Walters should have just thanked his office for not prosecuting his inexplicable nudity arrest.

Goldsmith's comments express his indignation about the fact that Will Walters had the audacity to sue the city for violating his 14th Amendment rights to equal enforcement of the law -- despite the San Diego Police Department's admission in a deposition that a different standard of enforcement is applied by the department at an event called Over The Line, which is famous for featuring scantily clad women.

"Rather than taking cheap shots at me in your article, a nice thanks to our office for doing our job right would have been rhe right thing to do," Goldsmith posted. The rest of the conversation is in the comments section below the article, here.

The city attorney's contemptuous attitude toward the LGBT community was reflected in his earlier comments also at that essentially proclaimed, that because some of his best friends are gay, he couldn't possibly be accused of defending discriminatory enforcement of the law. Among many other reasons, Goldsmith's belief that having gay friends makes not to prosecuting a wrongfully arrested gay man somehow gives him permission to defend discriminatory enforcement of the law, are just two of the reasons I'm glad I agreed to provide media strategy for Will Walters' civil rights case.

You can't help but wonder how San Diego's city attorney will reconcile his admission in his online rant against journalist Victor Hoff that police saw their arrest of Will Walters wrongly. One theory is that Goldsmith, who is serving his last few months in office, may be angling for a motion for outside counsel -- essentially a delay tactic that would cost San Diego taxpayers even more money than fighting for the supposed right of police to have one standard of nudity at straight events and another at gay events has already cost.

But rather than just creating enough conflict of interest to cause yet another pause in the plaintiff's' slow-moving sojourn in search of justice, could it be possible that Goldsmith's ploy -- if it is a ploy -- could backfire and make his fight in the "Gay Kilt Case" his lasting legacy? After all, the city attorney's most recent appeal for dismissal, which was denied, argued that naked, gay men would run wild at Pride if his office's appeal were not granted. Rest assured, herds of naked, gay men will not run wild through the the parks and streets of San Diego even though Goldsmith's and his deputy city attorney, Bonnie Hsu's appeal was denied.

With all of the San Diego city attorney's exotic legal maneuvering, it's easy to forget that Will Walters is suing the city for violating his 14th Amendment right to equal enforcement of the law, and that all he asked for originally and would have been happy to accept without suing anybody, was an apology.

Worth noting is the fact that Walters got an apology from the San Diego County Sheriff's Department for homophobic taunting by sherriff's deputies while he was in custody following his arrest by the San Diego Police Department. Walters accepted that apology and did not sue the county. On the other hand, the city refused to apologize for arresting Walters in the first place. That's why he sued. City Attorny Jan Goldsmith's craven legal strategy to deny a gay man that day in court he deserves to argue his case before a jury is how anyone who believes in equal rights under the law will remember this city attorney.