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San Diego Man’s Challenge To California Gang Database Fails

People linger in front of the San Diego Central Courthouse, Feb. 14, 2018.

Photo by Claire Trageser

Above: People linger in front of the San Diego Central Courthouse, Feb. 14, 2018.

San Diego Man's Challenge To California Gang Database Fails

GUEST:

Bianca Bruno, reporter, Courthouse News Service

Transcript

One of the first legal challenges to the California gang database by an individual named as a gang member failed in a San Diego court Friday.

A San Diego man who was one of the first to challenge the state's gang database in court will stay in that database, at least for now.

Tyrone Simmons sued the San Diego Police Department in early March over his inclusion in the gang database called CalGang, but failed. A judge ruled on Friday that Simmons will stay in the database until his name is purged in 2019.

RELATED: San Diego Man’s Challenge To California Gang Database Fails

Simmons used to be in a gang, but said his involvement ended when his daughter was born 10 years ago. He said he has fulfilled the requirement not to associate with a gang for five years.

His lawyer, Danielle Iredale, said that means he should have been removed from the database.

"Tyrone did what the criminal justice system says it wants," she said. "He made a mistake, paid his debt, and then changed his life for the better."

Iredale plans to appeal the decision.

During the proceedings, San Diego Deputy City Attorney Michelle Garland had a private meeting with Judge Laura Parsky to show her privileged information that demonstrated Simmons was still affiliated with gangs.

Most of that information was kept private, even after the ruling last week. One piece of evidence that was made public happened in April 2013, when a police officer said he saw Simmons with known gang members and was displaying gang signs.

Iredale said because the information was kept private, it was difficult to argue against it. She said that the judge's decision was a minor setback.

"One bad ruling will not destroy this law and the rights it has afforded to those who previously could not combat the adverse effects of over-policing and surreptitious data gathering," she said. "There are real adverse effects to documentation, not to mention the fundamental negative effect upon identity and self-definition."

A spokesman for the city attorney's office said he did not have a comment on the ruling.

In 2016, a state audit showed the CalGang database had several errors, including listing more than 40 infants as gang members.

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