Ruling favors suspected Calif. gang members

AP News
Posted: May 11, 2011 12:31 AM
Ruling favors suspected Calif. gang members

Authorities in California's Orange County violated the constitutional rights of dozens of suspected gang members when they enforced a gang injunction without giving them a chance to defend themselves in court, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday.

U.S. District Court Judge Valerie Baker Fairbank's ruling favors those who challenged a temporary gang injunction issued in February 2009, notifying suspected members of the Orange Varrio Cypress gang that they will be barred from associating in public, wearing gang clothing or being out late at night within a roughly 4-square-mile area of Orange.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California sued, arguing that when some 60 people challenged their inclusion in the temporary injunction prosecutors removed their names. Those people were nonetheless named in the permanent injunction.

Fairbank ruled that the action violated those people's rights to defend against allegations that they have gang affiliations. She ordered police and prosecutors not to enforce the injunction against them.

Deputy District Attorney John Anderson told City News Service he'll likely appeal the ruling.

"We strongly disagree with the court," Anderson said. "This ruling has rewritten more than 100 years of injunction law in the state of California."

ACLU attorney Peter Bibring said the ruling has implications for cities and the way they use gang injunctions to restrict the activities of suspected gang members.

"Any jurisdiction that employs gang injunctions should take a look at their practices following this ruling and see if they're consistent with the constitution," Bibring said.