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Friday, December 14 , 2018, 3:02 pm | Fair 65º


Use of Juvenile Information Source of Contention in Santa Barbara Gang Injunction Case

Meanwhile, a judge upholds a tentative ruling against three defendants claiming violations of their constitutional rights

It’s unlikely the City of Santa Barbara’s bid to implement a gang injunction will keep its March 5 trial date, since the two sides haven’t yet established how juvenile records will be used in the case.

Santa Barbara’s civil gang injunction would restrict the activities of 30 named individuals who are allegedly members of either the Westside or Eastside criminal street gangs. They would not be allowed to associate with other named gang members in certain areas of the city, nor have firearms or weapons, use drugs or alcohol, do graffiti, trespass, recruit or intimidate people in those zones.

The City Attorney’s Office and the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office are handling the case, and defendants are represented by attorneys.

Article Image
Santa Barbara Police Chief Cam Sanchez, left, worked closely with city attorney Steve Wiley to develop the gang injunction and review it before filing it in Santa Barbara County Superior Court. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk file photo)

The named defendants all have gang-related criminal histories, police have said. While none is a juvenile now, defense attorney Tara Haaland-Ford says about half of the information involved in the case is juvenile-based.

Defense attorneys and Chief Deputy District Attorney Hilary Dozer don’t agree on the basics — which information requires permission from a Juvenile Court judge to disclose, and what doesn’t. The files are confidential under Welfare and Institutions Code 827, but it’s less clear what rules apply to the police information from “contacts” and run-ins with the defendants that didn’t result in an arrest.

Dozer said the code applies only to case files and records, not officer observations, and juvenile information about a defendant can be released to that defendant’s attorney.

“There’s no gang injunction exception to 827,” Haaland-Ford said.

Defense attorneys said the plaintiffs have released information during the discovery process that they shouldn’t have, by getting information directly from police testimony instead of court documents.

The Public Defender’s Office has discovered that juvenile information has been released about 100 people not even named in the injunction, defense attorney William Mackler said.

Judge Colleen Sterne was “unhappy” the issue of juvenile records hasn’t been settled yet and scheduled a Feb. 21 hearing to handle it. She also ruled to unseal the second amended complaint and all other court documents going forward.

If Sterne decides some juvenile information should be protected, the plaintiffs would have to go through hearings in front of Juvenile Court Judge Thomas Adams for each defendant’s information to determine whether it can be used in the injunction case.

Dozer said he may request a temporary injunction again if the trial for the permanent injunction is further delayed.

Sterne also upheld a tentative ruling Monday.

Three defendants — Miguel Molina, Emmanuel Padron and Daniel Flores — claimed the allegations don’t constitute a cause of action and the proposed injunction terms would restrict their First, Second and 14th Amendment rights, but Sterne ruled against them.

She said there are enough alleged links to alleged gang activities to have a cause of action against them.

As to the injunction taking away certain constitutional rights, the full scope of the injunction would be determined at trial, and there are portions of it that won’t take away constitutional freedoms, Sterne wrote in her tentative ruling.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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