Unconscious Commentary on the Law re Anti-Gang Injunction

A few days ago, our local court of appeal upheld the validity of an anti-gang injunction, with the exception of the curfew provision.  In People ex. rel. Totten v. Colonia Chiques, case no. B184772 (2d Dist. Oct 15, 2007), the court found the curfew provision of the injunction is constitutionally vague because it forbids enjoined persons from “being outside” without defining “outside.”

The next day on my way to the law library, I caught the local news on the radio and the newscaster on a local station was reading a story about the decision.  I’d swear that when he read that the court’s decision on the curfew provision concentrated on the definition of “outside,” he let out an audible chuckle — or snort, whatever you want to call it — that was clearly derisive of the notion that “outside” would have to be defined.

Notwithstanding that unconscious commentary, the court’s decision makes sense, especially its argument that “outside” could have been adequately identified, with a little care, to pass constitutional muster.  It points to the city’s juvenile curfew ordinance as an example.  The injunction, on the other hand, simply enjoins persons from “being outside”:

The curfew provision prohibits enjoined persons from “[b]eing outside” in the Safety Zone during curfew hours, but  it does not define “outside.”  . . . Does this mean that a gang member is in violation of the injunction, and subject to arrest, if he or she is sitting in the open air on the front porch of his or her residence, or if he or she is standing on his or her own front lawn, or if he or she is at a late night barbecue in the backyard?  Is a gang member “outside” if he or she is sitting inside a vehicle parked on the street?

Valid questions.