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San Francisco’s city attorney is pushing hard to secure civil injunctions against four more street gangs. But no one’s likely to push back soon. Defense lawyers say the legal battles will come later, in criminal court, and will be fought with the district attorney. City Attorney Dennis Herrera � who in March managed to get San Francisco’s first-ever civil gang injunction made permanent against the Oakdale Mob gang in the Bayview � filed suit Thursday against four additional gangs in the Western Addition and Mission neighborhoods. He is seeking court orders to prohibit named gang members from gang-related nuisance conduct in three defined “safety zones” � orders hailed by law enforcement as effective tools to prevent violence. Nuisance conduct includes flashing gang signs, loitering and associating with other known gang members. For local defense attorneys, these injunctions are relatively new territory, requiring both civil and criminal law prowess. What starts as a civil lawsuit ends up in the criminal arena for those charged with violating the terms of the injunction. Once the alleged gang members are served with the injunction, they do have the right to tell their side of the story to a judge at a civil hearing and escape being enjoined. But as defense attorneys point out, these defendants don’t have the same rights they would have in a criminal proceeding: namely, the right to free counsel. In addition, if an alleged gang member were to challenge a permanent injunction, San Francisco defense lawyer Damone Hale says the defendant could be forced to answer questions in a deposition regarding any area the city attorney deems relevant to the gang injunction. And according to defense attorney Brian Petersen, who is representing one defendant charged with violating the Oakdale Mob injunction, a deposition and potential civil discovery of an accused gang member could open a whole new “can of worms” that could lead to new criminal charges. Thus defense attorneys are more likely to advise their clients to wait until they’re arrested and duke it out in the criminal courts, Hale said. “Defense attorneys are going to be a little more conservative about pushing a [civil] case,” said Hale, who unsuccessfully represented an alleged gang member in the Oakdale Mob pro bono during the injunction proceeding. “It does require brave attorneys,” said Juniper Lesnik, an attorney for the ACLU of Northern California. Violating the injunction is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months of jail time. Alternatively, the city attorney can slap violators with fines and up to five days of jail time. Since the Oakdale injunction became permanent in March, police have made three arrests for alleged violations. Two have gone to court: defendant Deshawn Range, who is Petersen’s client, is scheduled to go to trial in August and is currently free on his own recognizance; defendant James Powell is scheduled for a preliminary hearing next month and is currently on supervised pretrial release. The other person arrested, Ellis McGhee had not been served at the time of the arrest, so he was not charged, according to the DA’s office. McGhee is on felony probation in an unrelated offense. Herrera now has a recent Sacramento appellate court ruling to guide him on serving process. In April, the Third District Court of Appeal tossed out a gang injunction in West Sacramento because Yolo County prosecutors didn’t notify named members of the Broderick Boys gang. On Thursday, Herrera said he has “bent over backwards” to serve notices to the members of the gangs. He also said that in order to be sensitive to the concerns over civil liberties, the “safety zones” � or what the ACLU prefers to call “target areas” � are not overly expansive. And as for the alleged gang members’ defense at the upcoming hearing, Herrera said: “They can go get counsel if they like.”

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