Ogden's Trece injunction remains in force

Apr 6 2011 - 10:54pm

OGDEN -- The Trece gang injunction won another round in court as a judge has upheld it as constitutional.

The injunction is now 3-0 in major court contests.

In place since last fall, the injunction against Ogden's oldest street gang bans its estimated 350 members from associating with each other publicly, being in the vicinity of guns, drugs or alcohol and sets an 11 p.m. curfew.

Used commonly in California for years, and less so in several other states, the injunction is a first for Utah.

Three local defense attorneys had asked 2nd District Judge Ernie Jones to reverse his Sept. 27 decision signing the injunction into law. That decision, the injunction's first win, came after weeks of arguments and motions.

The rulings from Jones, signed Monday and issued Tuesday, essentially clear the way for a trial on the question of making the injunction permanent.

Mike Studebaker, one of the Trece lawyers, said the decisions weren't unexpected, but "it's still disappointing any time you throw the Constitution out the window."

He expects the trial to come early next year.

The injunction withstood an early challenge in October when the Utah Supreme Court declined to void it, pending expected appeals.

The Utah American Civil Liberties Union has joined three local lawyers in fighting the injunction, authored by the Weber County Attorney's Office and the Ogden-Metro Gang Unit.

Both sides expect the injunction to end up before the high court again. A major issue is that someone can be named as a Trece member by police without having a criminal record.

Jones issued four written decisions on a number of issues raised by the defense attorneys, often overlapping.

"Freedom of association guaranteed by the First Amendment does not extend to joining with others for the purpose of depriving third parties of their lawful rights," he wrote.

The opposition has longed claimed Treces were initially not given enough notice that the injunction was coming in order to raise a defense.

Jones dismissed such proper notice concerns. "The court finds that Ogden Trece is an unincorporated association ... and a street gang. Ogden Trece has not designated any agent for service of process.

"Ogden Trece fails to adhere to the formalities associated with organizations and associations. Ogden Trece conceals its structure. It does not file articles of incorporation or designate a business address."

As of late last month, several dozen arrests had been made under the injunction.

Officials say the arrests have slowed recently as Treces have begun avoiding police and complying with the injunction.

Violation is a class B misdemeanor prosecuted in Ogden Justice Court.

Several "failure to abate" arrests incident to the injunction have led to felony charges filed in district court after drugs or weapons were found on those arrested.

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