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Judge rules D.A. went too far with gang injunction

May 7, 2009 |  6:31 pm

An Orange County judge rejected issuing a preliminary gang injunction against four people on Thursday, ruling that the district attorney failed to prove they were gang members.

Civil libertarians hailed the decision by Superior Court Judge Kazharu Makino as a victory, saying that such injunctions go too far by barring certain people from congregating in a defined area and subjecting them to dress and curfew restrictions.

“This is an indication of the extent to which the D.A. is overreaching and sweeping so broadly that it’s catching up people who aren’t gang members,” said Peter Bibring, staff attorney for the ACLU of Southern California, who represented four people.

But John Anderson, the assistant district attorney in charge of gang injunctions, said the decision was “not a big victory” in the face of the dozens of alleged gang members the judge determined must comply with the injunction.

Starting in February, authorities served injunction notices to more than 100 alleged members of Orange Varrio Cypress gang in Orange. The injunction, the sixth in Orange County in the last 2½ years, demarcates a 3.8-square-mile area west of the 55 Freeway where alleged gang members may not associate.

Law enforcement has increasingly used injunctions in wide swaths of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties, saying they provide more tools to fight crime by documented gang members who have terrorized neighborhoods.

--Tony Barboza