Vasquez v. Rackauckas

Case Information

Full Name : Manuel Vasquez, Miguel Bernal Lara, Gabriel Bastida, et al. v. Tony Rackauckas, Orange County District Attorney; Robert Gustafson, Chief of Police, Orange Police Department, et al.

Case Number : 1155795

Court : United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Judge : Hon. Robert N. Block

Co-Counsel : Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP

Vasquez v. Rackauckas is a due process challenge to the enforcement of a gang injunction by the Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) and the City of Orange Police Department (OPD). The challenge argued that plaintiffs should not be subjected to a gang injunction just because police and prosecutors decide they’re gang members, but should have basic due process — including access to the evidence against them and an opportunity to present their side of the story.

In February 2009, the Orange County District Attorney and the City of Orange Police Department filed a gang injunction against 115 people they alleged were part of a gang called Orange Varrio Cypress.  When more than fifty of those people showed up in state court to fight the allegations that they were gang members, the OCDA dismissed them from the case rather than try to prove the allegations. With all the defendants who had tried to fight dismissed, the OCDA obtained the injunction by default against the gang — but the OCDA and OPD then served and enforced the injunction against the very same people it had just dismissed from the case. With the injunction enforced against them, the plaintiffs were subject to arrest for a variety of everyday activities such as being in public after 10 p.m., associating with other people suspected of being gang members (including immediate family members), or being in a restaurant where alcohol is served.

The ACLU of Southern California filed suit, alleging that the OCDA and OPD violated due process by denying the people they were attempting to subject to the injunction with basic hallmarks due process, such as access to the evidence on which police and prosecutors based their decision, an opportunity to present their side of the story, and a neutral decision-maker.

In May 2011, the federal district court ruled that the OCDA and OPD had violated the plaintiffs’ due process rights. The Court ordered them not to enforce the injunction against plaintiffs. The ACLU won in the district court when the judge agreed that individuals were being deprived of due process.

In November 2013, the Ninth Circuit Court upheld the district court ruling that the OCDA and OPD had violated the plaintiffs’ due process rights.

Case Developments

RULING
November 5, 2013

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that police and prosecutors violated the Constitution by enforcing a gang injunction against residents of Orange County. Read the ruling.

APPEAL
May 31, 2011

The Orange Police Department appealed the decision of the District Court.

APPEAL
May 16, 2011

The Orange County District Attorney appealed the decision of the District Court.

RULING
May 10, 2011

The federal district court ruled that the OCDA and OPD had violated the plaintiffs’ due process rights and ordered them not to enforce the injunction against plaintiffs. Read the ruling.

FILING
September 23, 2009

The ACLU filed a class-action lawsuit  against Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackaukas and the City of Orange Police Department for illegally placing dozens of residents under a gang injunction — after deliberately preventing them from arguing in court that they don’t belong to a gang.

UPDATE
February 2009

The Orange County District Attorney and the City of Orange Police Department filed a gang injunction against 115 people they alleged were part of a gang called Orange Varrio Cypress.