AClU appealing Ogden Trece gang injunction

Wednesday , September 12, 2012 - 5:54 PM

Tim Gurrister, The Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah says it’s appealing an order banning members of the Ogden Trece gang from associating with each other in public.

The ACLU says it filed notice of appeal Wednesday. The move comes after 2nd District Judge Ernie Jones ruled last month that an injunction first ordered in 2010 should be permanent.

The injunction also sets an 11 p.m. curfew for Ogden Trece members and makes it illegal for them to carry guns or graffiti tools.

An attorney partnering with the ACLU, David Reymann, called the injunction an “unprecedented” infringement on constitutional rights.

Weber County asked for the injunction to curb criminal activity of a gang authorities believe has more than 350 members.

The U.S. Supreme Court previously refused to suspend the injunction.

Reymann, of the Salt Lake firm of Parr, Brown, Gee and Loveless, was on hand as an observer for the weeklong trial held in June before Judge Jones, where the case was made by prosecutors to deem the injunction permanent. Three Ogden lawyers represented individual Trece members during the trial. They talked then about the expected appeal, anticipating Jones’ ruling.

“There is no First Amendment protection provided for groups whose sole purpose is criminal activity,” Weber County Attorney Dee Smith said in closing arguments June 14.

In his closing remarks, Trece attorney Randy Richards, ironically Smith’s former law partner, said, “Our task is to carry the torch of liberty, which is barely flickering in Weber County.”

The injunction violates constitutional protections provided by the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, Ninth and Fourteenth amendments, Richards argued.

An approach in common use in California but not in other states, the injunction is the first attempted in Utah. It bans Ogden Trece gang members not only from associating with each other in public, but prohibits even being in the vicinity of guns, drugs and alcohol in public.

“Because Ogden Trece is a community-wide gang, the injunction is the only adequate remedy to this community problem,” Judge Jones wrote in his 12-page ruling issued Aug. 20 that drops the word “temporary” from the injunction he signed in September 2010.

“The court is not convinced that other means of reducing nuisance, such as RICO (federal racketeering prosecution) or an increase in law enforcement would be more effective in abating gang activity than the injunction,” Jones’ decision reads.

— Standard-Examiner reporter Tim Gurrister contributed to this report.

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