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TX- Gang injuction challenge goes to high court‏

January 14, 2010

Gang injuction challenge goes to high court

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin announced today it will hear constitutional challenges to Wichita County’s prosecutions under a local gang injunction order, according to a release from the Wichita County Public Defender’s Office.

Wichita Falls Police officers arrested Mario Rico Martinez for violating a 89th District Court injunction forbidding certain activity. Court documents accused Martinez of making improper hand signs, wearing forbidden clothing, and sitting on a lawn chair with Maurice Lawson, another alleged Varrio Carnales gang member.

A Wichita County court convicted Martinez of violating the injunction and sentenced him to 10 months in jail. The Court of Appeals in Fort Worth, an intermediate court, upheld the convictions earlier this year, but the Court of Criminal Appeals, the highest criminal court in Texas, ordered that five cases be reconsidered.

The court agreed to hear arguments made by the Wichita County Public Defender’s Office that the convictions are unconstitutional under both the United States Constitution and the Texas Constitution because the Texas law and the local court’s injunction grant police officers too much power to determine what suspected conduct violates the law. Martinez argues that such sweeping discretion violates the separation of powers doctrine under both the U.S. Constitution and the Texas Constitution,l according to the release from the public defender’s office.

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