Judge: Trece injunction in effect while Utah Supreme Court reviews it

Oct 19 2012 - 8:49pm

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Second District Court Judge Ernie Jones rules on a motion during a hearing about a gang injunction for the Ogden Treces in June. This month, for the fourth time, Jones found that the injunction will stand until the Utah Supreme Court renders a decision regarding its appeal. He says the injunction has reduced crime in Ogden. (Standard-Examiner file photo)
Second District Court Judge Ernie Jones rules on a motion during a hearing about a gang injunction for the Ogden Treces in June. This month, for the fourth time, Jones found that the injunction will stand until the Utah Supreme Court renders a decision regarding its appeal. He says the injunction has reduced crime in Ogden. (Standard-Examiner file photo)

OGDEN -- For the fourth time, a judge has declined to suspend the Ogden Trece injunction.

A first for Utah, the two-year-old injunction bans members of Ogden Trece, the city's oldest street gang, from associating with one another in public or even being in the vicinity of guns, drugs or alcohol in public. It also sets an 11 p.m. curfew for Trece's estimated 300-plus members.

In motions filed last month, David Reymann, cooperating attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, asked 2nd District Judge Ernie Jones to suspend the injunction while the Utah Supreme Court reviews it.

ACLU and Trece lawyers claim the injunction is deeply flawed constitutionally.

The motion last month marked the fourth time Jones had been asked to shelve the injunction. The first came in September 2010 when Jones first approved the injunction in its preliminary form after weeks of in-court debate.

That was followed in November 2010 with another suspend-pending-appeal request when Reymann and several attorneys representing Trece members challenged in the Utah Supreme Court the logistics of how Treces were being served with the injunction.

The Supreme Court rebuffed that challenge. Treces have to be served the injunction before they can be held to have violated it.

The last request for Jones to essentially reverse himself came in June in the weeklong trial after which the injunction was made permanent.

After presiding over the trial, Jones on Aug. 20 ordered the injunction permanent, calling it a more effective tool than traditional law enforcement.

He reiterated that stance in his decision this month, leaving the injunction in place pending the appeal.

Jones wrote: "Defendants have not made a strong showing that they will likely succeed on the merits of an appeal. The court finds that defendants will not suffer irreparable injury if the injunction remains in place pending the appeal.

"The court also finds that the injunction has had a measurable impact on the reduction of gang crime in Ogden."

Reymann, of Salt Lake City, joined by the ACLU and Ogden lawyers Randy Richards, Mike Boyle and Mike Studebaker, who represent individual Treces, filed formal notice of appeal with the Utah Supreme Court on Sept. 12.

A decision could take as long as a year.

Police and prosecutors say the 200-plus arrests under the injunction have led to a slump in gang activity, especially regarding graffiti, and has caused other Ogden gangs to be less active out of concern they may be the next target of an injunction.

But Trece lawyers have called the crime-rate numbers statistically inconclusive. The critics have called the injunction unconstitutionally "overbroad" with definitions of a gang member loose enough to fit almost any Ogden resident.

They argue it is possible to be named to the Ogden Metro Gang Unit's gang database and subject to the injunction without being convicted of a crime.

Also this month, two more alleged Trece members have filed papers with the court to get out from under the injunction. Keith Gallegos and Alejandro Alejandre both seek the relief.

At least three Treces have been taken off the gang list by Jones in the past year after convincing officials they have cut their Trece ties, with another set for an opt-out hearing next week.

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