Today at the Alameda County Superior Court’s case management conference on Oakland’s gang injunctions the City Attorney’s Office advised the Court that the City will dismiss all defendants in both injunction cases.
Police Chief Sean Whent said today that gangs remain a priority for the Oakland Police Department. However, he said the Department is focusing on other gang intervention strategies, such as the Ceasefire program, and therefore is not in favor of continuing the injunction cases.
In June 2010, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Robert Freedman ordered a preliminary injunction enjoining 15 individual members of the North Side Oakland gang. In February 2012, Judge Freedman ordered a second preliminary injunction against 40 members of the Norteños gang.
The injunctions were intended to be temporary measures to disrupt criminal behavior of specific members of gangs within specific neighborhoods. They were not intended to last for the lifetime of the defendants.
In 2011, the City Council directed the City Attorney’s Office to continue prosecution of the existing injunctions. The Council also directed that no additional defendants could be enjoined, and that no additional injunction actions could be filed, without Council approval following an independent study of the injunctions’ efficacy. The City Attorney’s Office has proceeded according to the Council’s direction.
Based on arrest reports from OPD, only eight of the 40 defendants named in the Norteños injunction have been arrested in the injunction zone since the Court issued its order granting the injunction in February 2012. Those eight were arrested inside the injunction zone for crimes including robbery, burglary, illegally carrying a firearm, attempted murder and DUI (not for violating the injunction). One of those individuals was the victim of a homicide in the injunction zone in March 2013.
The fact that 80% of the defendants in this case were not arrested again within the injunction zone is a positive result. However, it is difficult to know what other factors influenced this outcome. Additionally, 16 of the 40 defendants have been arrested for crimes including robbery, grand theft and domestic violence in other parts of Oakland outside of the injunction zone or in other cities.
Both injunctions included “opt-out” provisions allowing defendants to be removed from the injunctions if they were no longer engaged in criminal activity. No defendants applied to “opt-out” of the injunctions.
The Court continued case management conferences in the injunction cases pending appeals by defense attorneys. The California State Court of Appeal upheld both injunction cases; the state Supreme Court denied review of both cases. Attorneys for one defendant in the NSO case appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. After the City filed a brief, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.
Preliminary injunctions are by definition temporary. Now that appeals are concluded, at this point in the proceedings the City either can dismiss the cases or pursue permanent injunctions.
Given Chief Whent’s priorities for the Police Department, limited resources in City Attorney’s Office and the fact that the injunctions were intended to be temporary measures, the City will file dismissals of both injunction cases without prejudice.