In a press release last weekend, the District Attorney Jeff Resig announced:
“A Yolo County Superior Court Judge has re-issued a permanent injunction against specific members of the Broderick Boys criminal street gang operating in West Sacramento, CA. Judge Timothy Fall issued the permanent injunction against nine Broderick Boys gang members on December 19, 2007. The court order creates a “Safety Zone” in the City of West Sacramento in which the named members are prohibited from associating with other gang members in public, trespassing, possessing weapons, possessing graffiti tools, possessing drugs and/or alcohol and/or intimidating witnesses. The named members are also subject to a curfew within the Safety Zone from 10 p.m. until sunrise.”
District Attorney Jeff Reisig stated:
“It is impossible to ignore the devastating impact gang activity has in our communities. An effective response must focus on prevention, intervention, education and enforcement. In the big picture, gang injunctions are merely part of this equation. However, when sanctioned and monitored by the courts, gang injunctions are a lawful and powerful tool that responsible civic leaders should consider in appropriate situations. By persistently pursuing this case, City leaders have demonstrated their commitment to public safety in West Sacramento.”
As the Sacramento Bee reported on December 31, 2007:
The nine alleged members – whom prosecutors called “the worst of the worst” – did not appear in civil court earlier to defend themselves against a request for restrictions on their activities. So on Dec. 19, Yolo Superior Court Judge Timothy Fall granted the injunction against them.
“They never showed up,” Yolo County Deputy District Attorney Jay Linden said Sunday.
“They’re never going to show up,” said Linden, who is handling the Broderick Boys case. “And we’ve done what we can by personally serving them and getting the court order against them.”
Sounds good right?
And now the rest of the story, that was not reported in the newspapers or at least not completely.
The case of Victor Dazo, one of the named Broderick Boys defendants. He is one of the nine who did not show up to contest the gang injunction. Now why did he not show up to contest it? He is in prison and probably because of that, is not able to go to court to fight the injunction.
Fine you say, maybe he is a bad guy and deserves to stay in prison. Maybe so, but in most cases in these sorts of cases, courts routinely continue cases due to “good cause” being found when defendants are not in court because they are in prison, rather than issue default rulings against them as we saw in this case.
A default judgment basically means that the individual did not fight the factual allegations of being a gang member, or the gang existing, or the serving of the injunction being proper, etc. In other words, the judge had no other side to look at in this case.
Where am I going with this you might ask?
Well the Sacramento Bee reports:
“On Jan. 31, prosecutors and defense attorneys will be in court again, arguing whether to apply the new injunction to a dozen other individuals.
The hearing will also determine whether the injunction should be broadened – enforced against the Broderick Boys as a criminal street gang and to hundreds of other alleged, unnamed gang members.”
What is actually happening on January 31, 2008, is that those defendants who are fighting the injunction will respond in court against the injunction. And if they are successful, the injunction may fall apart against Mr. Dazo and the other eight people who did not respond.
On Jan. 31, prosecutors and defense attorneys will be in court again, arguing whether to apply the new injunction to a dozen other individuals.
The hearing will also determine whether the injunction should be broadened – enforced against the Broderick Boys as a criminal street gang and to hundreds of other alleged, unnamed gang members.
The Bee goes on to report:
“In the meantime, Linden said there was no need to wait to enforce restrictions against those who hadn’t bothered to defend themselves – most of whom, the prosecutor said, are previously convicted criminals.”
They can start enforcing restriction on these individuals, if the rest of them are not in jail. However, the idea that these individuals did not bother to defend themselves is misleading at best. And the idea that the DA is home free on them, is accurate as well. That will depend on whether the judge upholds the gang injunction this time.
I know a lot of people think we are better off for having gang members or alleged gang members denied their constitutional rights to defend themselves, but from my perspective we have adhere to those rights. It puts all of us at risk of an overzealous prosecutor if we do not.
—Doug Paul Davis reporting