Unusual Anti-Gang Injunction Leads to Conviction of Man for Having Pager
August 26, 1993, LA Times
By THOM MROZEK, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
The first alleged gang member to be prosecuted under a sweeping court order that bars normally legal activities in the Blythe Street area of the San Fernando Valley was convicted Tuesday in Van Nuys Municipal Court.
Jessie (Speedy) Gonzalez was found guilty of violating the injunction against the activities in the Panorama City neighborhood when Superior Court Judge Lloyd M. Nash found that he had, among other infractions, possessed a pager and a glass bottle.
The conviction will be used as a test case to challenge the validity of the controversial court order, lawyers on both sides of the case said. .
Gonzalez, an 18-year-old Panorama City resident, “absolutely denies” he was a member of the Dukes gang, said Cynthia Solomon, his court-appointed lawyer.
Nash found that Gonzalez was in contempt of court for violations of four items in the 22-point injunction: possessing the pager, possessing the glass bottle that authorities say he threw at a police car, being on private property without written permission of the owner and obstructing traffic.
After the verdict, Nash sentenced Gonzalez to three years on probation and 90 days in jail. But because of time already served, Gonzalez is expected to be released by this morning after about 33 days in custody.
As he did at an earlier court hearing, Nash refused to rule on the constitutionality of the preliminary injunction, which was obtained by the Los Angeles city attorney’s office in April. City officials said the injunction was needed to curb otherwise legal activities used by gang members to further drug sales and other criminal behavior in the Blythe Street area.
Although the prohibited acts may seem harmless, the restrictions help police curb drug dealing and intimidation of residents in the 180–block area covered by the court order, city officials said. The American Civil Liberties Union unsuccessfully fought the injunction, which also prohibits standing on rooftops and possessing cellular phones.
City Atty. James Hahn welcomed the conviction. “Our goal is to balance everyone’s rights on Blythe Street,” he said in a prepared statement.
“Residents of the area, most of them members of minority groups and many of them immigrants who come here in search of a better life, had become prisoners in their own homes . . . while the Blythe Street gang ran free,” Hahn said.
Gonzalez is among more than a dozen alleged gang members arrested for violating the court order.
The Los Angeles County public defender’s office will challenge his conviction and the underlying preliminary injunction, said Deputy Public Defender Alex Ricciardulli.