WESTWOOD — The trial of an artist accused of illegally starting to paint a 120-foot Statue of Liberty mural on a Wilshire Boulevard high-rise was delayed Thursday to give him time to challenge the legality of his arrest.
Attorneys for graphic artist Mike McNeilly will have until May 26 to seek to overturn a Superior Court ruling that on Wednesday refused to dismiss misdemeanor charges against him. McNeilly contends his arrest violated his constitutional right to free speech.
Los Angeles officials ordered McNeilly, 46, to halt work on his half-finished mural 15 months ago when he was caught painting it without a city permit. McNeilly said he didn't bother to apply for one because he felt Westwood-area City Councilman Mike Feuer would block any permit.
Lawyers Gary Mobley and Bob Ross said they intend to ask an appellate court to further delay the trial so they can argue that the city violated McNeilly's constitutional rights.
Airport area court Judge Keith L. Schwartz warned that the trial will go forward next week if the appellate court doesn't intervene. "If you don't get a stay, be ready to see the smiling faces of 12 jurors, plus alternates," Schwartz said.