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Juvenile Files Still a Sticking Point

City and Defense Attorneys at Odds Over Gang Injunction Evidence


Thursday, December 8, 2011

The city and defense attorneys are still at odds over what juvenile information will be allowed as evidence during a trial in which Judge Colleen Sterne will decide whether the city’s proposed gang injunction should go into effect. The injunction was proposed earlier this year by city officials, a civil complaint that specifically names 30 alleged gang members whom they call the “baddest of the bad.” The injunction — which also names the Eastside and Westside gangs — would set up safety zones on both sides of the city where gang members wouldn’t be allowed to congregate. Certain prohibitions would also limit the clothing alleged gang members could wear and keep them away from the waterfront during the Fourth of July.

City attorneys have dished out their evidence — which includes a 450-page declaration from a gang investigator — to defense attorneys, evidence that they will use to try to prove a gang injunction is warranted. But according to defense attorney Stephen Dunkle on Monday, the evidence the city has submitted includes “all sorts of information that properly would be considered part of a juvenile court file” and thus is confidential and not usable in court. He asked Sterne to have the information removed. At least a couple of the defense attorneys, after hearing what information was contained in the three compact discs’ worth of evidence, didn’t even look at the evidence so as to not violate state code. But Chief Assistant District Attorney Hilary Dozer said there were two different concepts with two different standards. Authorities weren’t using information pulled from actual juvenile court files, he said, but information provided by police files and contacts, which would be allowed. Sterne urged the two sides to try to get on the same page.

The matter will be back in court on January 23, 2012, at which time the court will hear objections to the city’s pleadings by at least two of the named defendants and perhaps further discussion regarding the dissemination of juvenile information. But even with work to be done, it appears the case is still on schedule to head to trial in mid March. “There really should be no reason for delay,” Sterne said.

Billy Collins & Aimee Mann

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