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UACDL Files Amicus Brief in Support of ACLU's Motion for Expedited Appeal of Ogden "Gang Injunction"

17 August 2010 Published in Newsroom

For Immediate Release
October 18, 2010

The Utah Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers today filed with the Utah Supreme Court an amicus curiae (or "friend of the Court") brief (http://www.acluutah.org/UACDL_amicus_brief_Weber_v_Ogden_Trece.pdf) in support of the ACLU of Utah's Petition for Permission to Appeal Interlocutory Order and Motion for Stay Pending Appeal in the Ogden Trece "gang injunction" case. (See ACLU of Utah papers here:http://www.acluutah.org/OgdenTrece.html). A summary of the UACDL's request to be permitted leave to file an amicus brief is reproduced below:

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UACDL’s involvement in this case would ensure that the constitutional issues are fully briefed. Contrary to Weber County’s claims that its request for an injunction is not out of the ordinary, the County’s motion appears to be suspect on its face. One of the principal cases that the county relies on, People v. Acuna, 929 P.2d 596, 609 (Cal. 1997), is readily distinguishable from this matter given the vast geographical area that the County’s motion seeks to address. As opposed to the small area at issue in Acuna, the County seeks to ban a large area of Ogden City. Indeed, on August 28, 2010, the Ogden City police chief described the goal of the injunction in the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper as, “We are going to try this approach to see if it may push them out to another community.” See http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/home/50182020-76/gang-members-ogden-injunction.html.csp. This attempt to banish persons from an entire city implicates the rights to associate freely, travel, speech, etc., among other rights.

The proposed injunction itself violates basic due process protections. With the members of the group amounting to hundreds of people, notice and an opportunity to be heard are seriously in jeopardy for many group members. Likewise, painting an entire group with the broad brush of a criminal gang appears to be vague and overbroad. UACDL is also concerned that once a person appears on a list of persons associated with gangs that person may never be able to remove their name even if the person is completely innocent. Indeed, stories from across the country abound of persons mistakenly placed on terrorist watch lists or deemed members of criminal gangs. Although the ACLU addresses some of these issues, its briefing in the trial court or in this court does not address in detail the due process arguments.

To ensure this court has all of the information it needs to make an informed and legal correct decision, both the prosecution and defense perspectives should be fully briefed. Given the absence of notice, many, if not most criminal defendants will not have the opportunity to brief this court under the County’s current plans. The absence of any procedure for challenging the listing of a person’s name on the registry deprives hundreds of people from enforcing their due process rights. UACDL can fill this void and brief the due process issues for the court.