San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano will be unaffected by a recent ruling that found Orange County authorities violated the constitutional rights of dozens of suspected gang members by enforcing a gang injunction, an assistant district attorney told Patch Thursday.
The ruling is believed to be the first federal court decision regarding gang injunctions. Orange County Assistant District Attorney John Anderson, who supervises the gang unit, said the ruling only covers the approximately 50 people in the lawsuit, so its reach is minimal.
"Your communities can rest assured that the injunctions in place will remain in place and that the D.A. and sheriff will continue to make the communities a safer place," Anderson told Patch.
U.S. District Judge Valerie Baker Fairbank's ruling Tuesday settles a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Southern California in September 2009. The ACLU argued that that gang injunctions violated due process rights because when defendants challenged a temporary injunction, their cases were dismissed but they were then named in a permanent injunction.
The injunction prohibited gang members in certain parts of the city from associating in public and engaging in other activities that are normally legal. Similar injunctions are in place in San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente, where sparring between two rival gangs have resulted in rapes, murders and other assaults.
In Orange, the injunction only prohibits suspected gang members from some activities in a zone that covers about 19 percent of the city.
"Ironically, tragically, criminal street gang members—compliments of the ACLU—now have more constitutional protection than labor union members, war opponents and abortion protesters,'' Anderson said.
ACLU attorney Peter Bibring told the Associated Press that the ruling has implications for cities and the way they use gang injunctions to restrict the activities of suspected gang members.
"Any jurisdiction that employs gang injunctions should take a look at their practices following this ruling and see if they're consistent with the Constitution," Bibring told AP.
Anderson disagreed."We think that state law allows us to do exactly what we did. ... We don’t feel like there was any due process violation. As a result of that we’re going to appeal to the 9th District."
- City News Service and Adam Townsend contributed to this report.