Another round of OC Superior Court hearings are due today in the fight over a new gang injunction in SanTana. In August, Judge Franz E. Miller granted a preliminary injunction against the Townsend street gang that claims the neighborhood around Jerome Park.
The early morning hearing will deal with defendants named as gang members by the Orange County District Attorney's (OCDA) office. Later on in the day, a ruling is expected on whether Santa Ana Police Chief Carlos Rojas will get sanctioned for brushing off summons and depositions.
Chican@s Unidos, a grassroots group that's challenged the injunction even before it was filed, wants to mobilize residents and supporters to pack the courthouse.
"Deputy District Attorney Susan J. Eckermann contradicts herself," says Gaby Hernandez, an organizer with Chican@s Unidos. "At a previous court hearing in August, she said she wanted to make everything as fair as possible, but this morning she's going to ask that the defendants not be party to this case because they aren't listed as such."
In the initial complaint, 29 individuals were named as Townsend gang members. Hernandez says that the OCDA is creating a legal loophole to avoid the partial defeat they got served in the legal battle over the OVC gang injunction in Orange.
"In that case, they named the gang and the defendants," she says. "What the OCDA is doing now is not including defendants and only naming the gang as the defendant but using the list of people on the injunction as evidence."
The Chican@s Unidos activist says that if Judge Miller strikes the defendants' answers to the gang injunction under the pretext of them not having standing in court, the legal challenge mounted against it will be severely hampered.
In the other Townsend-related hearing, police chief Rojas and the data used to justify the injunction will be challenged. "Our attorneys want Chief Rojas to be deposed and provide the same information to them as he did to the district attorney," Hernandez says. "He didn't respond to the summons, he didn't show up to the two preceding court hearings and he didn't show up to the deposition."
Chican@s Unidos and attorneys in the case suspect that the evidence gathered is being inflated against the gang and that the case for injunction wouldn't stand under scrutiny.
After the expected pair of Superior Court rulings, activists will gather for a potluck at Jerome Park to plan their strategy going forward.
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @gsanroman2