A bruising court fight over Weber County’s efforts to crack down on the Trece gang now features a request that the county be cited for alleged misrepresentations.
U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups is weighing a motion by the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah asking that the county be punished for allegedly withholding information about how the county jail has tracked gang members.
“It is clear that Weber has engaged in a pattern of misrepresentation and actively withholding facts in this case for years,” the ACLU said.
Sanctions may include additional monetary damages and even an order granting the ACLU and its clients victory in all remaining facets of their case.
In their lawsuit, filed in 2015, Daniel Lucero and Leland McCubbin Jr. argued their civil rights were violated by the 2010 injunction served upon people identified in an Ogden Police Department database as gang members.
In 2019, Waddoups granted summary judgment to the pair, saying their due process rights were violated.
Those served with the injunction were forbidden from associating with other gang members, violating a curfew and other provisions.
Once enjoined, some people later were charged with misdemeanors for allegedly violating it.
The gang injunction itself was thrown out in 2013 by the Utah Supreme Court, but county officials soon said they might file an amended version of the injunction to pass court muster.
Since Waddoups’ ruling, other elements of the civil suit have remained in play.
At trial, monetary damages to be paid to Lucero and McCubbin will be determined for the due process violation already established.
Further, the ACLU seeks court mandates that the two men be protected from possible future gang injunction action and that their names be kept out of any gang database.
The database question has raged since 2017, when County Attorney Christopher Allred said in a deposition, “Weber County has never kept a database or any sort of list of Ogden Trece gang members nor has Weber County ever had the ability to put a person on the (Ogden police) Trece database or remove a person from the list.”
In its motion to dismiss the suit in 2018, the county said, “Weber has no ownership, access to, or control over a gang database.”
In a March 2018 deposition, Allred added the county had no plans to serve McCubbin or Lucero with a future gang injunction.
He also said he would instruct agencies not to serve someone with the injunction “if there is a reasonable doubt that the person is not an active and present gang member.”
McCubbin said in the suit that he “jumped out” of Trece about 12 years ago but was still served with the injunction.
But Waddoups ruled in 2019 that Allred had presented contradictory declarations about the lack of a gang database, because two former jail investigators testified they tracked gang membership and the information was available in the inmate tracking system.
One former jail investigator testified he worked with the Ogden Metro Gang Unit, shared information about gang members in the jail and also served dozens of them with the injunction in 2010-12.
After the ruling, Allred said the jail kept notes only to separate members of different gangs in cellblocks and that they have no purpose related to a gang injunction.
Allred reacted strongly to Waddoups’ declaration that the court “has reason to question Chris Allred’s bona fides” because of the discrepancies.
Allred and the county tried to have Waddoups removed from the case, but another judge refused.
In a subsequent ruling in June, Waddoups granted the ACLU’s request to delve further into the issue with additional discovery.
In an August deposition, Lt. Nealy Adams, who is in charge of the jail’s investigations unit, said there is some information gathering on gangs.
“Gangs are a growing concern in Weber County,” Adams testified. “That is factual. And I would say, yes, information is shared with agencies outside of the jail only when they come in specifically and ask for it.”
In its motion for sanctions, the ACLU alleged the county was trying to avoid liability in the case by attempting to convince the court that its gang intelligence effort “at any point was non-existent or minimal.”
“Weber did so in an attempt to pin all of the blame” on Ogden police and their gang database, the ACLU said.
Ogden City earlier settled its part of the case out of court.
“The consequences of Weber submitting false information to the court in a case seeking accountability for Weber’s violations of rights should be treated as the serious breach of public trust that it is,” the ACLU said.
In a Sept. 15 hearing, the county asked Waddoups to dismiss the sanctions motion and set a trial date. Instead, Waddoups gave the county until Oct. 16 to respond to the request for sanctions.
In an earlier court filing, attorney Frank Mylar, representing the county, said Waddoups’ allowance of additional discovery “incorrectly infers that there were false statements made” by county officials.
“Weber County and the jail still do not have a Trece gang database and no evidence states as much,” he said.
But in a Sept. 15 document submitted in response to the additional discovery demands, the county said, “Weber County Jail would provide bulletins to other law enforcement agencies in the area and would occasionally include gang related information.”