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Gang Said to Have Missed Filing Date

In doing so, prosecutor says Colonia Chiques lost their right to challenge an injunction.

June 03, 2004|Holly J. Wolcott | Times Staff Writer

Oxnard's Colonia Chiques have forfeited their right to challenge an injunction restricting their activities because they failed to formally respond to the civil lawsuit filed by the Ventura County district attorney's office, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Karen Wold said for the street gang to have proceeded with a challenge, it should have hired a lawyer and filed a written answer to the Superior Court lawsuit by last Friday.

Under state procedures, civil defendants have 60 days from the date of the court filing to respond to a lawsuit.

Wold has filed a request for a default judgment, in which she asked the judge to end the case and issue a verdict against the gang for failing to meet its obligations.

"It's a lawsuit; you have to have someone on the other side," Wold said Wednesday, shortly after filing her request. "If someone doesn't step up and represent the gang, this will proceed to a conclusion."

With her request, Wold hopes that Judge Fred H. Bysshe will order a permanent injunction against the gang without conducting a trial.

On Tuesday, Bysshe issued a preliminary injunction, creating a massive "safety zone" in the city, within which the Colonia Chiques are banned from congregating, wearing Dallas Cowboys clothing or staying out past 10 p.m.

Violators are subject to arrest and face misdemeanor charges that could bring a $1,000 fine or up to six months in jail.

Attorneys John H. Hachmeister and Gabriella Navarro-Busch have been retained by Oxnard community activist Francisco Romero and Colonia resident Dolly Villa to represent about 50 residents who associate with the Chiques but are not gang members.

Hachmeister said Wednesday that he and his co-counsel do not represent any active gang members.

Hachmeister and Navarro-Busch have written oppositions to various allegations contained in the lawsuit but have not filed a formal response on behalf of the gang, court records show.

"I represent possible [unnamed] defendants who are concerned they may be swept up into the injunction," Hachmeister said. "I don't represent a gang. I represent people connected with Colonia Chiques but disavowed members who do not engage in criminal activity."

Hachmeister said he probably would not fight the default judgment and instead let the matter be handled by the first person who challenges an arrest on suspicion of violating the injunction.

The judge is expected to rule on the default request by August, when the next court hearing is scheduled in the lawsuit.

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