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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Reisig and West Sacramento Defend Gang Injunction

The ACLU is taking on Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig before a three judge panel at the Sacramento 3rd District Court of Appeal over the issue of two year old gang injunction.

At issue are two crucial points. First that those affected by the injunction were not given sufficient notice in order to challenge the injunction. Second whether or not the individuals filing the suit even have standing to sue.

The Sacramento Bee quotes ACLU Lawyer Ann Brick:
"This injunction left it up to the police to decide who is and who is not a gang member," she said. Those stopped by police had to go into court to prove them wrong.
Reisig has countered that that four plaintiffs do not have standing to challenge the injuction because they have not admitted they are gang members and therefore the law does not directly affect them.

Yolo County Judge Thomas Warriner threw out the ACLU's challenge on this basis.

The Sacramento Bee further reports:
After court, Reisig defended the method police used to notify alleged gang members of the injunction.

"When you serve one street terrorist, they're all going to find out that the cops are coming," he said.

Reisig, who was at the time a Deputy District Attorney, gave notice of the suit to just one of the alleged gang members. When neither that individual nor anyone else showed up in court, Warriner granted the injunction.
What is unclear to me is whether these individuals have been served with gang injunctions? If they have been, how could they not have standing to sue? If they have not been, why would they sue in the first place?

This from the Sacramento News and Review on December 1, 2005:
All four of the ACLU’s clients in the case claim that they are not members of the Broderick Boys gang. (In fact, many West Sacramento residents say there is no such thing as the Broderick Boys and that local police and prosecutors have exaggerated the existence of the supposed gang.) And all said they received no notice that the gang injunction was being sought in the courts or that they would be subject to its restrictions.

But Judge Warriner ruled that the four had no standing to challenge the law, because they claim they are not gang members. The injunction “binds only defendant Broderick Boys and its members and authorized representatives” wrote Warriner in his ruling.

Furthermore, he ruled, “any person who is charged with criminal contempt for violating the terms of the injunction is entitled to the protection of numerous rights when defending such a charge.”
This ruling makes no sense, given that the clients of the ACLU are claiming to have been directly affected by the injunction.
The judge’s logic exasperated opponents of the injunction. Jory Steele, an attorney with the ACLU, said, “Obviously, we vehemently disagree with the judge’s ruling. Our clients were indeed directly affected by the injunction.” Directly affected because they have been labeled as gang members by police and prosecutors and because--even though they deny gang membership--they nevertheless risk arrest if they are stopped by police after 10 p.m. in West Sacramento or if they are seen in public with anyone else identified as a Broderick Boy.
So again--if these individuals have been served by the injunction--how do they not have standing? Why do they need to have admitted they were gang members in order to have standing?

Once that is question is decided, then the issue of the constitutionality of the Gang Injunction can be addressed. We can debate that issue further as we did back as we did last month.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting