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Injunction on Gang Violated, Jurist Says

The court rules that a member of Oxnard's Chiques broke a curfew inside the city's enforcement zone.

August 28, 2004|Catherine Saillant | Times Staff Writer

A 20-year-old Oxnard man was convicted Friday of violating a court-imposed gang injunction, the first to face legal consequences from the order outlawing certain activities by members of the Colonia Chiques street gang.

Ventura County Superior Court Judge Kevin J. McGee said that Ernesto Perez was a member of the Chiques and that he had twice violated a June gang injunction by staying out past a 10 p.m. curfew within a 6.6-square-mile enforcement zone.

Police found an open container of beer, another violation of the injunction, when they arrested Perez on June 26, McGee ruled.

But the judge threw out two other charges, including the prosecution's contention that Perez had been hanging out with another gang member when he was arrested.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Karen Wold said Perez's conviction represented a broader victory on the legality of the injunction, imposed June 1 by Ventura County Superior Court Judge Frederick Bysshe.

Defendants have criticized the gang injunction as too restrictive of Chiques' personal freedoms and its language overly broad and vague.

"This was a far larger deal than this individual case," Wold said. "This was about whether or not Judge Bysshe's order was lawful, and Judge McGee found that it is."

Perez's attorney, Deputy Public Defender Neil Quinn, had argued that the gang injunction was illegal because it targets the entire Colonia Chiques gang instead of individual members.

"I feel baffled as to why we lost," Quinn said. "This is a strange, novel process of getting a court order and essentially leaving the name blank. And they allow the police to fill in the name as the need arises."

Perez was sentenced to 60 days in Ventura County Jail and three years of probation with restrictions on whom he can associate with.

Quinn said he expected his client to be released Friday because he has already served more than half his term.

The four-day trial was heard only before the judge by agreement of the parties' attorneys. Another Oxnard man suspected of violating the gang injunction is scheduled for trial Sept. 3, Quinn said.

Quinn is considering asking for a jury trial in that case, the defense attorney said.

Meanwhile, Oxnard resident Javier Ambriz, 23, who has claimed in court papers that he is not a gang member and therefore should not have been served with the injunction, was arrested this week on suspicion of perjury, authorities said.

Ambriz was arrested early Thursday after police searched his home and confiscated evidence that they said linked him to the Colonia Chiques gang.

Police said they obtained a search warrant in response to Ambriz's July 19 court declaration that he was not a gang member.

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