WERE YOU PLACED ON A GANG INJUNCTION BY THE CITY OF LOS ANGELES?
If so, read this important information about your rights and the settlement of a class action lawsuit.
If you were placed on a gang injunction by the City of Los Angeles (which includes any gang injunction “Safety Zone” in the City of Los Angeles), you have several rights that were affected by an ongoing class action lawsuit, Youth Justice Coalition v. City of Los Angeles.
Some people that the City of LA enforced gang injunctions against were actually listed as defendants on the complaint in the civil lawsuit where they won the injunction. But most of the people put on gang injunctions in the City of LA were just handed injunction papers by LAPD officers and told that because police thought they were members of the gang named in the injunction, they were now on the injunction and had to obey the rules listed in the injunction. If you were ever put on a gang injunction by the City of Los Angeles in this way, you are a member of this class and are considered a Plaintiff in this lawsuit. Both of the changes below apply to you.
First, since March 2018, the City has not been allowed to enforce its injunctions against any person who the City or LAPD told it was subject to a gang injunction without first proving to a court they were an active member of a gang. If you were put on a gang injunction, and were not a named defendant in a gang injunction case, the City cannot enforce its injunction against you. You may have received a letter from the City notifying you that you were removed from the gang injunction list, but even if you did not get a letter, you are no longer on the injunction and cannot be arrested for not following the rules in the injunction.
Second, the City of LA has agreed to a proposed settlement in the Youth Justice Coalition v. City of Los Angeles lawsuit that will prevent it from being able to enforce gang injunctions against someone the City or LAPD claim is a gang member without first proving to a court that the person is an active gang member.
Under this settlement, the City will not enforce injunctions against people without first giving them the opportunity to argue in a court and present evidence that they are not gang members – in other words, all Class Members are “off” gang injunctions and can only be put back on an injunction in the future if the City follows the process described in the settlement and proves gang membership to a court. They can no longer just hand people a copy of the injunction and then enforce it against them.
If you think you or someone you know may be affected by this lawsuit, please:
Read the entire Notice of Proposed Class Action Settlement that explains the lawsuit and the settlement, your rights as a member of the class, and the process to object to the settlement.
Read the entire Proposed Settlement Agreement.
See a full list of injunctions brought by the City of Los Angeles that are affected by this lawsuit. Note that some gang injunctions in Los Angeles County have been brought by the County of Los Angeles or by cities other than the City of Los Angeles. This settlement does not apply to those injunctions. If you are on an injunction but are not sure if this settlement applies to you, please check the list.
As a class member, you have the right to object to the proposed settlement and tell the court why you disagree with this settlement. We must receive your objection through the process described in the Notice of Proposed Class Action Settlement no later than April 12, 2021. You may also send comments in support of the settlement. If you do not object to the settlement, you do not have to do anything and the terms will apply to you if the Court approves the settlement.
The lawyers representing the Plaintiffs in this lawsuit are:
ACLU of Southern California
Urban Peace Institute
Munger Tolles and Olsen
The lawsuit was brought on behalf of individuals as well as on behalf of the Youth Justice Coalition.
You can read answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the lawsuit HERE, or about what to do if the City serves you with an injunction in the future HERE. You can also contact the lawyers representing the Plaintiffs if you have any questions or are not sure whether you are a member of the class by sending an email to LAganginjunctions@aclusocal.org or leaving a voicemail at (213) 201-8933.
REGARDING THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS PREVIOUSLY SUJBECT TO GANG INJUNCTIONS IN THE CITY OF LOS ANGELES
This notice is about a proposed settlement of a class action lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles involving alleged constitutional violations in the enforcement of “gang injunctions” by the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles City Attorney’s office against individuals in the City of Los Angeles. If you have previously been notified by the City of Los Angeles that you were subject to a gang injunction, this settlement may affect your rights.
ABOUT THE LAWSUIT
On October 26, 2016, the organization Youth Justice Coalition and two individuals (“Plaintiffs”) filed this lawsuit (entitled Youth Justice Coalition et al. v. City of Los Angeles et al.) against the City of Los Angeles in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Case No. 16-CV-07932-VAP (RAO), challenging the City’s practice in enforcing “gang injunctions,” which are state-court civil orders prohibiting a variety of gang-related nuisance behaviors. The lawsuit alleged that City of Los Angeles violated procedural due process under the United States and California Constitutions by not naming Plaintiffs as defendants in the civil actions in which gang injunctions were issued or otherwise affording Plaintiffs an opportunity to contest the allegation that they were active members of the criminal street gang subject to the injunction before being served with and made subject to enforcement of the gang injunction. The lawsuit asked the Court to order the City of Los Angeles to cease enforcing gang injunctions against any individuals without first providing them constitutionally sufficient process to contest the allegation that they are active gang members.
In October 2016, the two individual Plaintiffs asked the Court to temporarily halt enforcement of gang injunctions against them pending resolution of the case. The City did not oppose the request as to one Plaintiff, and the Court granted the request as to the other in a preliminary injunction entered in September 2017.
In October 2017, Plaintiffs asked the Court to certify this case as a class action. After discussions between the parties, the City agreed that the case should be certified as a class action, which the Court did in January 2018, certifying a class described below (in “The Parties”).
In January 2018, Plaintiffs asked the Court to expand the preliminary injunction temporarily prohibiting enforcement of gang injunctions from the individual Plaintiffs to the entire Plaintiff Class. The Court granted the request in March 2018 on the basis that Plaintiffs were “likely to establish that the City did not provide sufficient due process for [these] class members . . . and that continued enforcement of the Los Angeles Gang Injunctions against these class members is likely to result in irreparable injury.”
The parties have reached a settlement of the claims that were certified as class claims, and this notice provides details of that settlement.
Two individuals previously subjected to gang injunctions, Peter Arellano and Jose Reza, represent a class of individuals certified by the Court, defined as
“All persons, past and future, whom an authorized agent of the City of Los Angeles has notified, whether by personal service or otherwise, that they are subject to a Los Angeles Gang Injunction and who (a) were not named as individual civil defendants, or who were not substituted in as Doe defendants, in the civil nuisance abatement action to obtain that injunction, and (b) who do not have contempt proceedings for violation of such an injunction currently pending against them.” (the “Plaintiff Class”)
If you have been previously notified by an authorized agent of the City of Los Angeles that you are subject to a gang injunction obtained by the City, and you were not named or substituted in as defendant in the state court action in which that injunction issued, you are a member of the Plaintiff Class in this case. Even if you have been notified by the City of Los Angeles that they are no longer enforcing the injunction against you, you may still be a member of the Plaintiff Class.
NOTE: Some gang injunctions in Los Angeles County were obtained by the County of Los Angeles. This Settlement does not affect those injunctions. If you have questions about whether you are affected by this case, contact the attorneys for the Plaintiffs as described below.
The organization Youth Justice Coalition is also a plaintiff in this case, although it is not a class representative.
The Defendant in this case is the City of Los Angeles (“the City”).
The City is not admitting liability or any wrongdoing. The Parties desire to compromise and settle this dispute without any admission of fault, liability, or wrongdoing, in the interests of avoiding the additional expense and the inherent uncertainties of litigation.
ABOUT THE SETTLEMENT
The following is only a summary of the provisions of the settlement. The written agreement between the parties has the full terms of the proposed settlement that was preliminarily approved by the Court. There are instructions below if you want more information about this settlement, including a copy of the complete agreement. The settlement is for non-monetary relief only, which means that the parties are agreeing that the City of Los Angeles will continue certain actions that it already takes and will take certain additional actions to address the claims in the lawsuit and ensure the City’s enforcement of gang injunctions complies with due process required by the California and United States constitutions. The settlement does not entitle you or any member of the Plaintiff Class to money damages, i.e., a cash payment.
The Contents of the Settlement
Plaintiff Class Releases
The Plaintiff Class will release all claims in this lawsuit that the Court allowed to be pursued on behalf of the Plaintiff Class (specifically, all constitutional claims asserted against the Defendant). The Plaintiff Class will also release all claims based on future events that are substantially similar to the events on which this lawsuit was based.
Enforcement of Gang Injunctions
Under the Settlement, the City of Los Angeles will enforce a Gang Injunction against an individual only if that individual was named as a defendant in the civil injunction proceeding (or was otherwise joined in the civil injunction proceeding, as a party, real party in interest, or otherwise, such that the person received all the same procedural rights as a defendant under the California Code of Civil Procedure, Rules of Court, and other applicable California rules and laws) and is made subject to enforcement of the gang injunction by a judgment or court order. This new policy applies even if an individual was previously served with a Gang Injunction, and applies to existing Gang Injunctions and to any new Gang Injunction the City of Los Angeles may obtain or seek to enforce in the future.
New Gang Injunctions
If City files a complaint seeking a New Gang Injunction, City will name as a defendant any individual against whom City seeks to enforce the New Gang Injunction. The City may seek to specify, in any proposed New Gang Injunction, the procedure by which the City may petition the court to include additional defendants or parties in interest to the New Gang Injunction. Any such procedure shall seek to afford to any additional defendant or party in interest the same due process rights that a defendant receives under the California Code of Civil Procedure, Rules of Court, and other applicable California rules and laws, and must be approved by the court. The City will serve the complaint and other legal documents related to a New Gang Injunction on an individual named as a defendant, and/or the gang entity, in the manner provided for service of process in civil litigation under the California Code of Civil Procedure, Rules of Court, and other applicable California rules and laws.
Existing Gang Injunctions
The City of Los Angeles may ask a court to modify an Existing Gang Injunction to make a person subject to it, either by asking the court to add that person as a defendant or by otherwise providing the individual with the same due process rights as a defendant.
The City will make that request by personally serving a motion to modify injunction (or similar document) on an individual that City seeks to add as a defendant or real party in interest to an Existing Gang Injunction. This motion (or similar document) will include the evidence on which the City relies in the motion, although that production of evidence does not supplant or replace the rights of either side under the rules of civil discovery, subject to the rulings of the court.
Procedures of the City of Los Angeles’s New Policy
For a period of three years following the Effective Date of this Settlement, City will provide:
- to individuals served with a complaint seeking a New Gang Injunction: a letter that provides contact information of Plaintiffs’ Counsel and explanatory information about the process;
- to individuals served with a motion to modify an Existing Gang Injunction (or similar document) to add that individual as a defendant or real party in interest: a letter that provides contact information of Plaintiffs’ Counsel and other legal resources available to the individual; and
- to Plaintiffs’ Counsel: the names and reasonably available contact information of individuals served with a complaint seeking a New Gang Injunction or a motion to modify (or similar documents) seeking to add an individual to an Existing Gang Injunction.
Nothing in the Settlement Agreement obligates City to provide or pay for counsel for any defendant or real party in interest that City seeks to subject to enforcement of a New or Existing Gang Injunction, nor does anything in the Settlement Agreement obligate Plaintiffs’ Counsel in this class action to represent you in any such proceeding.
Absent a change in the legal standard of proving active gang membership in California, City, in obtaining a court order permitting enforcement of a New or Existing Gang Injunction against an individual, will bear the burden of proof to establish by clear and convincing evidence the individual is an active gang member of the criminal street gang that is a cause of the public nuisance. Nothing in the Settlement Agreement prevents the individual from raising any defense to or legal arguments against the enforcement sought by the City.
The City may seek a default judgment or similar remedy against any individual who fails to oppose a motion to modify (or similar document) seeking to subject an individual to enforcement of an Existing Gang Injunction or who fails to respond to a complaint filed to obtain a New Gang Injunction. If City voluntarily dismisses an individual before a final order or judgment on that individual’s active gang membership, City will not enforce against that individual, but this does not preclude the City from later serving a previously dismissed individual in accordance with the provisions of the Settlement Agreement.
A court’s determination that an individual is or is not an active gang member made in a civil gang injunction proceeding does not preclude City or the individual from taking the position that the individual is or is not an active gang member in any other criminal, civil, or administrative proceeding.
If the court determines that an individual is not an active gang member, this does not preclude City from later serving that individual based on new or additional evidence of active gang membership in accordance with the provisions of the Settlement Agreement.
Any appeal, writ, or other challenge to a court’s determination of active gang membership shall be as provided in the California Code of Civil Procedure, Rules of Court, and other applicable California rules and laws.
Enforcement of a Gang Injunction may begin upon notice of the judgment or order permitting enforcement against that individual. Unless otherwise ordered by the court, notice of the judgment or order shall be effectuated in accordance with the California Code of Civil Procedure, Rules of Court, and other applicable California rules and laws.
If the judgment or order permitting enforcement against an individual is entered in an Existing Gang Injunction, City shall serve the individual with a Notice of Non-Enforcement of Specific Gang Injunction Provisions, an example of which is attached as Exhibit A, setting forth any provisions of the Existing Gang Injunction that City does not or will not enforce.
The City will cease enforcing a Gang Injunction against an individual five (5) years from the date of the judgment or court order authorizing such enforcement against that individual. However, nothing in the Settlement Agreement precludes the City from seeking a judgment or order permitting enforcement of a Gang Injunction against any individual, regardless of any previous service, enforcement, or dismissals, based on new or additional evidence of active gang membership, so long as the City does so in accordance with the provisions of the Settlement Agreement.
Enforcement of Gang Injunctions Against Juveniles
The new policy for Gang Injunctions and all other provisions of the Settlement Agreement shall apply equally in the event City seeks to obtain a judgment or court order permitting enforcement of a Gang Injunction against an individual who is under the age of 18 (“Juvenile”). In addition, City shall:
- Comply with applicable California law governing civil lawsuits brought against Juveniles, including Cal. Code Civ. Proc. §§ 372-373 (appointment of a guardian ad litem);
- Serve a copy of the complaint, or motion to modify or similar document, on the Juvenile’s parent and/or guardian, in addition to serving such document on the Juvenile in accordance with the terms of the Settlement Agreement and applicable law; and
- Deliver an electronic copy of the complaint, motion to modify, or similar document to the Children's Law Center, who can provide the document to the attorney assigned to the Juvenile in the event the Juvenile is under the jurisdiction of the dependency court pursuant to Welfare & Institutions Code § 300 et seq.
In appropriate cases, City may seek release of Juvenile Court records to the court presiding over the Gang Injunction proceeding and the Juvenile.
Attorneys’ Fees and Costs
The City will pay Class Counsel reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs in the amount of $1,750,000.
IF YOU WANT MORE DETAILS
There is a group of lawyers, Plaintiffs’ Counsel, representing Plaintiffs and the Plaintiffs Class in this case. You can get a list of these lawyers and a copy of the settlement agreement at https://www.aclusocal.org/LAganginjunctions.
To ask questions about the settlement of this case you can:
Send a letter to Youth Justice Coalition Plaintiffs’ Counsel, c/o ACLU of Southern California,
1313 West 8th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90017.
- Send an email to LAganginjunctions@aclusocal.org.
- Leave a voicemail at (213) 201-8933.
IF YOU DO NOT OBJECT TO THIS SETTLEMENT:
You do not have to do anything.
IF YOU OBJECT TO THIS SETTLEMENT:
You must mail a statement explaining why you object to the settlement no later than April 12, 2021. Please be sure to include your name, address (if available), telephone number (if available), the case name and number of any gang injunction you have been subject to (if available), your signature, a reference to this settlement or the case (Youth Justice Coalition et al. v. City of Los Angeles et al.), the portions of the settlement to which you object, and the reasons you object. Mail your objection to:
Youth Justice Coalition Plaintiffs’ Counsel
c/o ACLU of Southern California
1313 W. 8th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90017
Plaintiffs’ Counsel will provide your objection to the federal judge assigned to this matter, the Honorable Virginia A. Phillips, and to Defendant’s Counsel. You must mail your objection by the above deadline; you cannot object to this settlement after the deadline has passed. Even if you object, you do not have the ability to "opt out" of this settlement if the Court approves it.
HEARING REGARDING FINAL APPROVAL OF THIS SETTLEMENT
The Court will also hold a hearing about this settlement on May 31, 2021 at 2pm. The hearing date could change. Please check any of the websites listed above close to the date of the hearing for information about any possible change in the hearing date. The Court gets to decide whether to allow members of the Plaintiff Class who timely served objections to this settlement to speak at the hearing.
The address for the court is:
U.S. Federal District Court, Courtroom 8A (8th floor)
350 West 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
You can get more details about the hearing from the places listed above.
General Background on Gang Injunctions and the City of Los Angeles’s Current Enforcement
What are gang injunctions?
Gang injunctions are orders issued by a court in a civil lawsuit brought by the City that prohibit individuals who are “active members” of a gang from doing certain activities in a specific neighborhood or area known as a “Safety Zone.” The injunctions have terms that prohibit people from against doing activities that are already illegal—like fighting—as well as everyday activities that would otherwise be perfectly legal, such as associating with others police claim are “known gang members” (including family members), drinking alcohol in public view, or possessing ordinary objects such as highlighters or cell phones. If someone is required to obey a gang injunction they can be arrested if they violate these terms, charged with a crime, and if found guilty can be punished with fines or jail time.
How do I know if I am on a gang injunction?
The City has gang injunctions against about 72 gangs throughout Los Angeles. You can see a map of the different “Safety Zones” and a list of all the gangs here. As of 2016 about 9,000 people were on LA City gang injunctions.
There are two ways to be “put on” an injunction. If your name was on the original complaint filed by the City seeking a gang injunction and you were named as a defendant in that case, then you are a “named party” on the injunction and the injunction applies to you. If that is how you were put on an injunction you are NOT a member of our class, and the injunction may still apply to you.
The second way that many people were “put on” an injunction was if an LAPD officer handed or “served” you with a copy of a gang injunction and told you that a gang injunction applied to you. If you were “put on” the injunction this way—around 9,000 people were—then you are a member of the plaintiff class in this lawsuit, and this all applies to you. The City has stopped this practice, and in 2017 or 2018 you may have received a letter from the City telling you that you were off of the gang injunction or that the City would not enforce the gang injunction’s terms against you.
Is the City of Los Angeles currently enforcing gang injunctions?
No. The City of Los Angeles is not currently enforcing its existing gang injunctions against anyone that was just given a copy of the gang injunction. That means that you cannot be arrested for not following the gang injunction’s terms—although you can still be arrested for violating the law. It may still be enforcing its injunctions against people who were initially named as defendants in the gang injunction lawsuit.
Note: Gang injunctions in Los Angeles County or other surrounding areas are still being enforced. If you have questions about whether the injunction against you is still being enforced, please contact ACLU SoCal at (213) 201-8933.
Who does the settlement apply to?
The attorneys in this case, along with the Youth Justice Coalition and the named plaintiffs brought this class action lawsuit on behalf of anyone who was put on a gang injunction by the LAPD or City of Los Angeles only by being given a copy of a gang injunction and told that they had to obey its terms. If that description applies to you, you may be a member of this class and this settlement applies to you. This settlement does not apply if you were subject to an LA City gang injunction but were listed as a defendant on the original complaint or given the opportunity to challenge the City’s claim that you were an active gang member.
If you are not sure if you were on an LA City gang injunction, you can contact the ACLU of Southern California at (213) 201-8933 or via email at LAganginjunctions@aclusocal.org and we can find out if the City included you on its gang injunction list.
What gang injunctions are impacted by the settlement?
This settlement only affects gang injunctions in the City of Los Angeles. The settlement does not affect injunctions outside the City of Los Angeles, including those in other cities in the County of Los Angeles (such as Long Beach), injunctions in unincorporated areas in the County of Los Angeles brought by the County. You can see the list of injunctions here.
Where can I find the terms of the proposed settlement?
You can find the terms by reading the full Settlement Agreement, or the Notice of Settlement which describes the settlement.
In summary, the proposed settlement requires that the City permanently stop the practice of handing copies of gang injunction orders to people the City or LAPD claim are “active gang members” and then arresting them if they do not follow the injunction’s rules. As a result of this settlement, if the City wants to subject you to a gang injunction, it will have to first ask a state court to find that you are a gang member, and as part of this process it will have to give you all of the evidence that it is using to argue to the court that you are an active gang member. You will also be able to challenge the City’s claims and evidence and present your own evidence.
This is only a summary of the proposed settlement. You should look at the complete Settlement Agreement or Notice of Settlement for a complete description.
Does the proposed settlement entitle me to any money?
No. The settlement does not entitle you or any member of the Plaintiff Class to money damages (i.e., a cash payment).
What if I disagree with the proposed settlement? How do I object to the proposed class action settlement?
If you disagree with the proposed settlement, you may file an objection. The court will consider all objections before it decides whether to approve the settlement in this case.
If you want to file an objection please mail a statement explaining your objection to the settlement no later than April 12, 2021. You cannot object after that deadline has passed. Even if you object, you are not able to “opt out” of the settlement if the court approves it.
Directions on how to object are detailed in the Notice of Settlement.
What if I agree with the proposed settlement?
If you agree with the settlement you do not have to do anything for it to apply to you. If you would like to submit a statement in support, you may send it to:
Youth Justice Coalition Plaintiffs’ Counsel
c/o ACLU of Southern California
1313 W. 8th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90017
When will the court decide whether to approve the proposed settlement?
The Court will hold a hearing about this settlement on May 31, 2021 at 2pm. The hearing date may change. Please check any of the websites listed above close to the date of the hearing for information about any possible change in the hearing date. The Court gets to decide whether to allow members of the Plaintiff Class objected to this settlement to speak at the hearing.
The address for the court is:
U.S. Federal District Court, Courtroom 8A (8th floor)
350 West 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Procedures for Future Enforcement of Gang Injunctions
If I get served with legal papers saying that the City wants to put me on an injunction, what should I do?
If you receive a complaint or motion from the City of Los Angeles alleging that you are an active gang member and that you should be subject to a gang injunction, until you receive a court order or judgment finding that you are an active gang member, you are not on the gang injunction and do not have to follow the terms in the injunction.
If you want to challenge the City’s claim that you are an active gang member, you have the right to defend yourself in court and present evidence. You sometimes will need to present evidence in advance of your hearing on the gang injunction. If you do not respond to the City’s complaint or motion by a certain date, you may lose certain rights, including the ability to deny being a gang member and challenge the City’s claims against you. Because it is a civil case, you will not be appointed an attorney like in a criminal case. You can represent yourself, but you should consult with an attorney immediately.
The ACLU of Southern California cannot guarantee that we can find you a lawyer to help you with your case, but you should contact us as soon as possible at (213) 201-8933.
Will a lawyer be provided to me if the City tries to put me on a gang injunction?
No, the City of Los Angeles will not provide or pay for an attorney for any individual that it wants to put on a gang injunction. You can represent yourself, but you should consult with an attorney immediately. You can call the ACLU of Southern California's LA gang injunction hotline at (213) 201-8933 for a consultation and more information, although we cannot guarantee we will represent you. (The ACLU of Southern California does not charge clients for representation.)
What happens if I do not respond to the City’s legal papers regarding a gang injunction?
If you do not respond to the City’s legal papers seeking to put you on a gang injunction, a judge may rule against you and place you on the gang injunction by default.
What happens if the City tries to put me on a gang injunction and the court determines that I am not an active gang member?
If the court rules that you are not an active gang member the City cannot put you on the gang injunction and you will not be subject to the gang injunction’s terms. The court’s ruling does not stop the City from serving you again at a later time and arguing that you are an active gang member based on new or additional evidence.
What happens if the City tries to put me on a gang injunction and the court determines that I am an active gang member?
If the court rules that you are an active gang member, then it will issue an order putting you on the gang injunction. You will be subject to the terms of the gang injunction when you receive notice of the judgment or order, and if you do not follow the terms you may be arrested and charged with a crime.
How long will the City enforce a gang injunction against me?
The City can enforce a gang injunction against you for five (5) years from the date of the judgment or court order. After 5 years, the City may seek another judgment or order against you based on new or additional evidence that you are still an active gang member, but it must go through this entire process again and prove to the Court that you are currently an active gang member based on new evidence.
How does being put on a gang injunction impact other criminal, civil, or administrative cases I may have?
A court’s ruling that you are, or are not, an active gang member in a gang injunction case may not control whether another court may find you are a gang member in a different proceeding. Different courts may use different definitions of gang membership or different standards of proof.