Judge reinstates anti-gang injunction against West Sac’s Broderick Boys

By Hudson Sangree – Published 12:00 am PDT Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Yolo County judge ruled Friday that a controversial anti-gang injunction targeting the Broderick Boys of West Sacramento – tossed out by an appeals court last year – should be reinstated for now.

The preliminary injunction granted by Judge Kathleen White imposes a curfew on alleged gang members and, among other restrictions, prevents them from gathering in public.

It will remain in place until a trial determines if a permanent court order should be issued.

Prosecutors hailed the decision as a victory for residents plagued by gang activity, while defense lawyers said it would give police sweeping powers to interfere with the rights of West Sacramento residents.

In her six-page ruling, White said prosecutors had shown “by clear and convincing evidence” that they probably would prevail at trial on whether broad and long-lasting restrictions were needed to combat gang crime in the Broderick and Bryte neighborhoods.

The potential harm to the defendants – including two dozen alleged gang members named by prosecutors and up to 400 unnamed individuals – was outweighed by the harm to the community if the injunction had not been issued, White wrote.

But White also said the criteria proposed by prosecutors for identifying gang members were overly broad and “would likely result in the curtailment of the rights” of residents who had little or no connection with gangs.

She limited the injunction to active gang members, including those who admitted to being Broderick Boys or were named by reliable informants as gang members.

Included under the judge’s order are those who have tattoos associated with the Broderick Boys.

The judge’s decision followed a lengthy hearing at which Deputy District Attorney Jay Linden and others argued against a group of defense lawyers led by Mark Merin, a prominent Sacramento civil rights attorney.

Defense lawyers said Friday that they were disappointed.

Even with the judge’s limitations, police would have broad discretion to curtail the civil rights of those deemed gang members, said Joshua Kaizuka, a former Yolo County public defender who now works with Merin.

“Basically she still leaves it up the cops to identify who is a Broderick Boy,” Kaizuka said.

District Attorney Jeff Reisig, who renewed the injunction effort at the request of West Sacramento officials, said he was relieved.

“It’s a victory for the city of West Sacramento and the citizens who have been affected by gang violence for decades,” Reisig said. “It’s a great tool for law enforcement.”

The Sacramento-based 3rd District Court of Appeal threw out a previous version, in part because law enforcement officials had failed to give alleged gang members sufficient notice to fight it in court.

The prior injunction was granted after no one showed up to contest it.

This time, a number of alleged gang members appeared in the Woodland courthouse and were represented by a team of lawyers.

A lengthy hearing started in late March and proceeded sporadically through closing arguments May 12.

Defense lawyers filed nearly 100 statements from West Sacramento residents who said gang activity in the city did not warrant a sweeping court order.

Prosecutors countered with numerous statements from law enforcement officers regarding the prevalence of gang activity, from drug dealing to serious violence, in West Sacramento.

In the end, White sided with the prosecutors.

The new anti-gang injunction, like others used throughout the state, includes a “do not associate” provision that prohibits gang members from “standing, sitting, walking, driving, gathering or appearing anywhere in public view or any place accessible to the public.” They are forbidden from intimidating witnesses or those who complain about gang activity.

A 10 p.m.-to-sunrise curfew applies to alleged gang members in the “safety zone,” an area north of Highway 50 from Harbor Boulevard to the Sacramento River.

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