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Judge Approves Use of Juvenile Records in Santa Barbara Gang Injunction Case

A Superior Court judge has ruled that juvenile records can be used in the gang injunction civil case filed against 30 named alleged gang members in Santa Barbara.

The City Attorney’s Office and Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office filed the case in March 2011 and have been waiting for a ruling on using juvenile court, criminal and police records — which are confidential — in the arguments for a permanent injunction.

Of the 9,000 pages of records requested, Juvenile Court Judge Thomas Adams released more than 5,000 pages to be used, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Hilary Dozer.

Defense attorneys have vehemently argued against using them, and Adams’ decision came after 19 hearings on the issue during the past year.

The injunction is before Judge Colleen Sterne, and if granted, would restrict the named defendants from associating with one another in certain areas of the city, wearing gang clothing or tattoos, having firearms or weapons, using drugs or alcohol, doing graffiti, trespassing, and recruiting or intimidating people in those mapped-out “safety zones.”

The proposed document and conditions are what the plaintiffs suggest, but Sterne has control over the language and provisions of the injunction if it is granted.

The injunction language would criminalize some behaviors that are otherwise legal, such as associating with certain people — other named defendants — in city parks, in a car or anywhere else in public.

Of the 30 defendants, five were in custody before the injunction was filed and remain there; nine were incarcerated after the injunction was filed; and 16 people have been out of custody, Police Chief Cam Sanchez said at a public meeting in May.

Thirteen of the 30 defendants have attorneys — they’re not guaranteed free counsel in a civil proceeding as they would be in a criminal proceeding — and four have filed “opt-out” provisions to try and be excluded from the injunction.

Adams is still working on one 827 motion — for one defendant’s juvenile records — and refused to release the records of one more defendant, but “we have the bulk of the information that we were requesting,” Dozer said, adding that the plaintiffs will try to update the declaration — information supporting the civil complaint — with this information by the Aug. 12 court date so the case can move to trial.

The declarations include evidence of gang activity to justify the injunction conditions, according to Dozer.

Despite objections by defense attorneys, he says it’s important to show gang activity over time, before and after someone turns 18. The records can show that a person has been consistently and historically engaged in gang activity and are also evidence of gang activity itself in the Santa Barbara area, he said.

Even though someone like Ruben Mize — who was sentenced to 60 years to life for the 2007 murder of 16-year-old Lorenzo Carachure and is named in the injunction — won’t be subject to the injunction since he’s in prison, the criminal activity as a juvenile and adult is important to show what kind of activity gangs participate in, Dozer said.

There has been one public meeting, in May, on the injunction since it was filed and Santa Barbara residents told the City Council they were worried about discrimination and the large amount of time and public money spent on the issue without public input.

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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