OGDEN — The Utah Supreme Court has voided an injunction banning members of the Ogden Trece gang from associating with each other in public.
The injunction had been made permanent in August 2012 when a 2nd District Court judge ruled it necessary to abate gang activity in the area. Under the injunction, the 315 to 500 members of the gang were prohibited from gathering within a 25-square-mile "safety zone," which blanketed much of Ogden.
The ban included "driving, standing, sitting, walking, gathering or appearing together with any known member of Ogden Trece anywhere in public view or anyplace accessible to the public," with the exception of school or church situations, according to court documents.
The decision was quickly appealed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, which applauded the state's high court Friday for deciding to overturn the injunction, calling it "a victory for civil rights."
"We are thrilled that the court vacated this misguided, overboard and constitutionally suspect law enforcement tactic and recognized that the process Weber County used to obtain the injunction was fundamentally flawed," said David Reymann, an attorney cooperating with the ACLU of Utah.
The ACLU argued in its appeal that the Weber County attorney's blanket lawsuit against unnamed members of the Ogden Trece gang as an "unincorporated association" violated Utah rules for properly serving the suit.
Additionally, alleged Trece members fought the injunction, arguing it violated their constitutional rights of association.
The Utah Supreme Court declared that while Trece could be considered an unincorporated association, the Weber County Attorney's Office did not meet due diligence requirements to serve a leader of the group before serving the suit by publication.
Undeterred, the Ogden Police Department plans to continue its efforts to stem the gang's criminal actions, Chief Mike Ashment said Friday. He called the injunction "an effective tool to lower crime and enhance the safety of our community."
"We do not view this decision as a setback as to the merits of the injunction, but rather a direction from the court as to how to serve a criminal gang," Ashment said, noting that the decision did not deem the injunction unconstitutional or an illegitimate law enforcement tool.