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Judge throws out convictions against man accused of violating Ogden gang injunction

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SALT LAKE CITY — A judge has overturned two convictions against an Odgen man for violating a disputed gang injunction that was later ruled illegal by the state supreme court.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah said in a news release Thursday that an order issued last week by state judge Michael Direda lifting misdemeanor convictions against 42-year-old Leland McCubbin was a victory for the rights of all Utah residents.

ACLC legal director John Mejia said the ruling shows the government must follow the law no matter who they are targeting.

"It doesn't matter if they are rich or poor, it doesn't matter what their standing in society is, you have to follow the rules," Mejia said.

The ACLU has a separate class action lawsuit against Weber County asking a judge to throw out all convictions that came from the injunction. No ruling has been made in that case.

Weber County Attorney Chris Allred said his office will fight the class action lawsuit until the end but will not take any more legal measures to oppose overturning the misdemeanors for McCubbin, who he noted has a lengthy criminal record.

The injunction was issued in 2010. It made it illegal for "Ogden Trece" gang members who were served with the injunction to meet in public and carry guns or graffiti tools. It also set an 11 p.m. curfew for the members that applied to a 25-square mile area that encompassed most of the city.

Graffiti and gang crime dropped significantly after the injunction was implemented, Allred said.

In 2013, the Utah Supreme Court overturned the injunction, with justices saying that Weber County did not meet legal requirements to serve the injunction to the organization's leaders or justify why they weren't able to do so.

The ACLU has fought against the injunction since its inception, arguing it was sweeping, infringed on the constitutional rights of those accused of being gang members to assemble, and it denied them due process.

The Supreme Court's 2013 ruling did not weigh in on those issues, instead focusing on the technical issue.

Gang injunctions are common in places like California, Mejia said, but Ogden's was rare because it covered an entire city.

Currently, the gang injunction is not being used in Ogden, but officials are in discussions about the best way to bring it back, he said.

"It was very good for the community," Allred said.

McCubbin is elated to have the convictions lifted, Mejia said. Having completed his prison sentence for felony criminal mischief and other charges, he is now working in Ogden and his days as a gang member are part of his past.

Mejia said when McCubbin was arrested for violating the gang injunction in 2011, he was no longer a member of the gang, compounding the injustice.

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