There is a troubling case out of Harris County, Texas where a court has issued an order barring 16 individuals from a Houston neighborhood on the ground that prosecutors alleged that they are gang members up to no good. However, this was a civil proceeding where the 16 individuals were neither given representation nor were present. The precedent established by such a public nuisance ruling is chilling if prosecutors can bar citizens from neighborhoods based on associations or future conduct.
Prosecutors told the court that the 16 individuals are members of various gangs, including the Bloods, Crips and Most Wanted gangs from entering the area. They have now been declared human public nuisances by the Texas court and can now be enjoined from being in the area.
Laura Cahill, senior assistant county attorney, insists that “This is a way to clean up certain areas where there has been a lot of gang activity.” It is also a wonderful tool for more authoritarian designs if people can now be declared akin to pollution as a public nuisance. What prevents other neighborhoods then banning the same or other individuals? Presumably, other neighbors will not want to take this curious form of a negative externality from nearby neighborhoods.
While five police officers testified, the decision was not based on the criminal standard of proof of a crime: beyond a reasonable doubt. Moreover, the individuals were not afforded representation and did not appear. Notably, the prosecutors wanted to ban 28 individuals but could only find 16 to serve.
Now, any of these individuals who are found in the neighborhood can face a year in jail. These orders, in my view, violate core constitutional guarantees and present a serious threat to civil liberties. If successful, it would invite the creation list of persona non grata individuals barred from travel within cities or even states.
What do you think?
Source: ABC and Live Sciences
54 thoughts on “Texas Court Declares Over A Dozen Individuals Public Nuisances And Bars Them From Neighborhood”
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Arch – er, excuse me, Artie – that is fantastic stuff!
Please direct me to your blog so I can sign up for the RSS feed. Other than Always Sunny in Philadelphia, I don’t have many other consistent sources of comedic relief, and I can tell already that you would bring immeasurable joy into my life.
But chill out with the Jesus stick in the ass talk. I thought it was funny at first when I said it to you, but now that you’ve repeated it back to me it really takes on a creepy aura that I don’t really wanna talk about. Cut it out.
But seriously, you’re funny as hell. Cough up your website address.
Arch… Wow. Just wow. Seriously man.
You should pull that Jesus stick out of your ass. But whatever, if you wanna leave it in, I won’t judge.
You like a little Jesus in you. Whatever makes you happy.
Vodka for me.
Definitely not Jesus.
This is not arch. This is Artie. I am on another computer. I accidently got on his name not mine. You don’t know how important Jesus is. Religions misrepresent him giving you a bad impression of him. That is what religious people do in a subtle way. They see God as being outside of them. Devils see God in the same way. You have that stick in you not knowing it . Know it recanting your statement. Be right with your brother.
What do I think? This doesn’t stand a chance if challenged on Constitutional grounds. It is, however, a scary example of jackbooted authoritarianism run amok.
And what Mike A. said.
Gang members are Pirates. Territories that allow them to roam free are Pirate Territories. Fly over and flush. Don’t go t Yemen, Somali or parts of Los Angeles or Texas.
Ditto what Mike A said….
A gang is a collection of evil people with felonious designs on the weaker amongst you. If a gang was running your neighborhood you would want a court order, an injunction, a 357 magnum, a German Shepard, six mean grand kids of 230 lbs each with baseball bats, and a street cleaner to clean up the rubble left by the gangsters. Gang members need to be killed not enjoined. Unless they have the eyes of the world on them and all sorts of folks who want to protect them because they are minority this and not guilty of that. This is why people build gated communities and have paid cops on the beat and have gun toting guys like Zimmerman on duty to watch the punks who breach the barriers and have desire to prey on old people and steal their skiddles. They dont pray over old people, they prey upon them. Which is why I hope that Zimmerman is acquitted and more neighborhoods become gated communities. It seems to me that if you wear a gang uniform you are fair game for being barred from my neighborhood. Crips and the Bloods need to be bloodied. Woof, growl, bark [cuss words in dog sprech]
Oh that is until they are cavorting, sellng drugs and pimping hookers in front of your house and then you would be all for it – as would all the others here.
“Oh that is until they are cavorting, sellng drugs and pimping hookers in front of your house and then you would be all for it – as would all the others here.”
Seeing Black perhaps?
At the risk of being classified as another “hand-wringing” liberal, I will offer the following:
1. The wealthy maintain the homogeneous purity of their surroundings by living in gated communities. This is permissible because gated communities do not enclose public property. The roadways are not dedicated and must be maintained at the sole expense of the homeowners. Therefore, access to these neighborhoods can be restricted to guests and business invitees. It’s not my cup of tea, but here in Florida this concept has flourished.
2. The civil remedy of injunctive relief may properly be used to prohibit an individual from engaging in threatening conduct toward another individual, but the injunction must be narrowly drawn to accomplish its intended purpose.
3. The wholesale issuance of injunctions prohibiting individuals from being present within a defined geographical territory is facially unconstitutional. What the prosecutors are doing is using the law of nuisance to criminalize and punish status, thereby avoiding the effort required to prosecute individuals for actual crimes.
4. It is a very short trip from these rulings to enactment of a 21st century version of the old Chinese exclusion laws, but perhaps that is where we are heading.
The Constitution is still an experimental document. In my view the most important challenge facing us is whether we have the maturity to develop a truly diverse society under that framework. Legal and cultural Balkinization won’t lead us in that direction.
Well, that was easy!
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