Trece injunction now law

Sep 27 2010 - 10:43pm

OGDEN -- The injunction meant to sweep Ogden Trece, the city's oldest gang, off the streets went into effect around 4:30 p.m. Monday.

A tool in use in only a few other states, the gang injunction is a first for Utah. It bans Treces from associating in public, being around guns, drugs and alcohol, or staying out past 11 p.m.

"The court finds Ogden Trece is a public nuisance and a criminal street gang," 2nd District Judge Ernie Jones said in his groundbreaking announcement granting the injunction after five hours of legal arguments.

Four accused Trece members, on hand in court and named in the injunction, made it out of the courthouse. Attending their court hearings was one of the exceptions to the new ban.

Officials said that while it could happen any time, it's likely the first arrest on the injunction would be a matter of days.

So far, 17 members have been served with the injunction in its earlier form, making them subject to its constraints. Serving the remainder of the estimated 485 Trece members is the next step. They have to be served the injunction before they can be found in violation of it.

Briefings of Ogden uniformed police officers on the Trece ban will likely begin today or Wednesday.

Stepped-up enforcement would begin Wednesday, when the Ogden Metro Gang Unit begins its regular Wednesday through Saturday workweek.

Enforcement will not really take off until all 56 patrol officers have been thoroughly briefed on the gang injunction and how to check for Trece members in the gang-unit database, said Lt. Scott Conley, who heads the gang unit. "The gang officers, of course, are already aware of it."

"It will be a common-sense approach," Police Chief Jon Greiner said. "We can't really just go looking for them to be sure they're not associating. We'll respond to calls and take action appropriately."'

"It's not like we're going to be chasing them into church and arresting them there," said Weber County Attorney Dee Smith, noting some of the exceptions to the new ban. "We want them in church."

Treces are free to travel to work, school and church together, "engage in charitable endeavors and raise their families," he said. "They can drink in private."

But the two local defense attorneys who have been fighting the injunction, with help from ACLU of Utah since it was filed Aug. 20, expect swifter enforcement.

"They (Ogden police) are out there right now, I'm sure, chasing them," Mike Studebaker said after Monday's hearings.

Both he and Mike Boyle said they'd be filing immediate appeals to the Utah Supreme Court of Jones' granting of the injunction.

Trece was formed in 1974 under the name Ogden Knights, according to the 331-page injunction that includes more than 100 pages of photographs of gang tattoos, graffiti, hand signs and clothing, and accuses Trece of everything from graffiti to murder.

The name lasted about a year, dropped in favor of the tag "Centro City Locos," read the court papers, and Ogden Trece was adopted as the gang name in 1988. Centro City Locos is making something of a comeback, CCL turning up in gang tattoos and graffiti, as well as derivations of O13, Trece Hispanic for the number 13.

Boyle and Studebaker, joined by the ACLU's Utah chapter, have attacked the injunction as constitutionally flawed, although the ACLU's Utah chapter was denied its request by Jones to argue its 43-page "amicus curiae," or friend of the court brief, a decision it will be appealing. The Utah Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is expected to join in the appeal.

All have called the injunction heavy-handed and constitutionally deficient, "vague and overbroad" because it includes bans on felt-tip pens and spray paint as graffiti tools.

They also have challenged the gang unit's database as arbitrary. Two of eight factors, such as being named by a confidential source or found in the company of documented gang members by police on three occasions, can bring listing in the gang database, according to testimony.

But Smith argued successfully for the injunction, quoting case law supporting the rare step of a public nuisance statute addressing gangs as protecting citizens "from the predations of the idle, the contentious and the brutal."

In addition to promised appeals, the injunction was granted despite lingering constitutional arguments by the defense, set for oral arguments Nov. 9 before Jones.

Those pending defense questions will be dealt with in proceedings to make the now-preliminary junction a permanent injunction.

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