Guilty by Association: Making a Case against Gang Enhancements and Injunctions

The Center for Juvenile Law and Policy invites you to join its two-day symposium for defenders, experts, and advocates in a community examination of gang enhancements, gang injunctions, gang outreach, and defending gang cases in court.  For registration, please visit our registration site.



April 24 – April 25, 2015
Loyola Law School, Los Angeles
Robinson Courtroom


Program as follows (subject to change): 
Friday, April 24th

8:00 – 8:45           Registration and Breakfast

8:45 – 8:55           Welcome by Sean Kennedy, Executive Director, CJLP

9:00 – 10:30         Session One:  Defense Gang Experts
The prosecution routinely uses gang experts, but defense counsel rarely calls them. This session introduces several gang experts who have been called by defense counsel to rebut a police gang expert’s testimony that the crime was gang-related.  Such defense gang experts can also assist defense counsel in cross-examining the prosecution’s police gang expert or the presentation of mitigation at sentencing.

Introduction discussion: Do you call defense gang experts?
Shelan Joseph, DPD, Los Angeles County Public Defender's Office

  • Alex Alonso, Gang expert, advocate, and founder of, an online resource for information about gangs
  • Jorja Leap, Adjunct Professor, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, Department of Social Welfare , and author of Jumped In: What Gangs Taught Me about Violence, Drugs, Love and Redemption
  • Rahn Minagawa, PhD, Forensic Psych Consultants, San Diego
  • Mike Garcia, Interventionist, White Memorial Hospital
  • Moderated by Efrat Sharony, Mitigation Specialist/Social Worker, CJLP


10:30 – 10:45     Break

10:50 – 12:15      Session Two:  Historical and Legal Overview of the STEP Act (Pen. Code §186.22)
The lecture will cover the history of the STEP Act, from its enactment in 1988 to the drastically increased penalties and predicate offenses of the “Proposition 21” amendments in 2000.  Potential constitutional problems and possible defenses, such as “frolic and detour,” will be covered.   There will be a California Supreme Court update on recent gang-enhancement decisions, as well as a compilation of all intermediate appellate court decisions holding that the gang-enhancement evidence was insufficient as a matter of law.

  • Constance Istratescu, Senior Deputy Associate Defender, Orange County Alternate Public Defender’s Office
  • Lisa Romo, Deputy State Public Defender at the Office of the State Public Defender, Oakland.

Brief report on published and unpublished opinions reversing gang enhancement based on  insufficient evidence.
Teny Geragos, Loyola Law School ‘16


12:15-1:15           Lunchtime Keynote Speaker:  Luis J. Rodriguez

Poet, novelist, journalist, critic and columnist whose best-known work,  Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A., received numerous awards and is regularly featured on school reading lists across the country.  He is the 2014 Los Angeles Poet Laureate.

1:20-2:45              Session Three:  Defending Gang Cases in Court

Experienced trial counsel will discuss pretrial motions, voir dire and cross examinations of police gang experts, tendering defense gang experts, and other practical issues that relate to the defense of a client charged with a gang enhancement.  An experienced gang prosecutor will discuss how the DA’s Office decides when to pursue a gang enhancement and what factors might help to negotiate dropping the enhancement.  A deputy sheriff will discuss how police gang experts opine whether a crime is gang-related.  A former juror will discuss deliberations about a charged gang enhancement.

  • Ilya Alekseyeff, Los Angeles County Deputy Alternate Public Defender
  • Antonella Nistorescu, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney, Hardcore Gang Division
  • Joseph Magazenni, former juror in gang-enhancement trial
  • Moderated by Patricia Soung, Clinical Instructor/Staff Attorney, CJLP                                    

2:50                Closing Remarks

Sean Kennedy, Executive Director of the CJLP, Loyola Law School

3:00-4:30        Reception on Founder's Hall Patio

Saturday, April 25th

8:00 – 8:45           Registration and Breakfast

8:45 – 8:55           Welcome

  • Sean Kennedy, Executive Director, CJLP, Loyola Law School
  • Dean Victor Gold, Loyola Law School, Senior Vice President, Loyola Marymount University

9:00         Session One:  Best Practices for Gang Prevention/Outreach
Los Angeles Probation Department employs “evidence-based practices” to evaluate gang prevention/outreach programs.  After juvenile boot camps and “Scared Straight” approaches were proven to be less effective, communities and service providers experimented with different models for gang prevention and outreach.  This session will focus on several rehabilitation-oriented models in an attempt to identify what works best in gang outreach.

Moderated by Jorja Leap, Adjunct Professor, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, Department of Social Welfare 

9:00 - 9:45 Governmental Programs Panel

  • Paul Vinetz, Probation Bureau Chief for Los Angeles County Probation Department, District 5, former Director of Juvenile Special Services, and 2011 recipient of the CPOC Award for Excellence.
  • Refugio Valle, MSW, Regional Program Manager for the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development
  • Sergeant Emada Tingirides, Los Angeles Police Department Coordinator of the Community Safety Partnership Program, South Bureau

Moderated by Franky Carrillo, Jr., exoneree and CJLP Advisory Board Member

 9:50 - 11:00 Community Programs Panel

  • Kenny Green, Gang intervention specialist and Director of the Gang Intervention Unit at the Toberman Neighborhood Center, San Pedro.
  • Skipp Townsend, Co-founder & CEO, 2nd Call
  • Alfred Lomas, Founder and Executive Director, Inner City Visions
  • Hector Verdugo, Associate Executive Director, Homeboy Industries
  • Jimmy Wu, Case Manager, InsideOUT Writers Program

 11:00 – 11:15      Break

11:15 - 12:30      Session Two:  Anti-Gang Injunctions
For over thirty years, local authorities in Los Angeles have used civil injunctions to aid in “gang suppression” or so-called “hot zones”.   Several reporters and legal commentators have suggested that it is all but impossible for a person listed as a “gang member” in an injunction to ever have her/his name removed from the list.  The City Attorney’s Office denies this, pointing to its informal procedures to petition to be removed from the list.  We will evaluate conflicting claims about removability and strategize solutions to the obstacles to having one’s name removed from a gang injunction list.

  • Olu Orange, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Southern California, and Director of the USC Dornsrife Trial Advocacy Program; former Deputy Public Defender with the Orange County Public Defender’s Office and current civil rights attorney.
  • Ana Muniz, PhD, Director of the Dream Resource Center at the UCLA Labor Center, and the author of Police, Power, and the Production of Racial Boundaries (Rutgers UP).
  • Josh Greene, Equal Justice Works Fellow at the Advancement Project
  • Moderated by Samuel Pillsbury, Professor of Law & Frederick J. Lower Fellow, Loyola Law School

 12:30-1:30           Lunchtime Keynote Speaker:  Fr. Gregory Boyle, S.J.

Founder and Executive Director, Homeboy Industries and author of Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion

1:40-2:30             Breakout Sessions

  • Gang Injunctions:  Strategizing how to provide pro bono representation of persons seeking to be removed from a gang injunction list or the CalGang Database.
  • Gang Defense Experts:  Strategizing how to increase the number of defense gang experts and how to provide practical-skills training for potential new defense gang experts.
  • Gang Prevention Programs:  Identifying needs of community gang/outreach programs.

2:30 – 2:45           Break

2:50 –3:45            Session Three:  Restrictions on CalGang Database (Penal Code § 186.34)  
Established in 2003, the state-wide CalGang Database can be accessed only by law enforcement agencies and is used to add people to gang injunctions, support arguments for gang enhancements and can even be used to disqualify families living in public housing.  Newly-enacted controls over CalGang, including parental notification of juveniles who are designated as “gang members” on CalGang, will be covered.  The negative effects of databasing juveniles will be explored. We will also inquire whether the parental notification provisions are being complied with and explore potential avenues for juveniles to contest designation. 

  • Peter Bibring, Director of Police Practices and senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California
  • Kevin Lapp, Associate Professor, Loyola Law School
  • Kim McGill, Organizer and co-founder of the Youth Justice Coalition, Los Angeles, and member of the Advisory Committee of the Campaign for Fair Sentencing of Youth
  • Teenager who has been listed on Calgang (TBD)
  • Moderated by Samantha Buckingham, Clinical Professor & Co-Director, Juvenile Justice Clinic, CJLP 

3:45                        Closing Remarks, Sean Kennedy, Executive Director, CJLP, Loyola Law School

3:50-5:00            Reception on Girardi Patio

‌‌Please go here to register for this event.