PANORAMA CITY : Appeals Court Throws Out Conviction in Gang Case

A state court of appeal on Friday threw out the first conviction obtained under a controversial court order that bars a Panorama City street gang from a wide range of otherwise legal activities, ruling that the case was prosecuted in the wrong court.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled that the Los Angeles city attorney's office should have gone to Van Nuys Superior Court, not Municipal Court, when it prosecuted Jessie (Speedy) Gonzalez for alleged violations of a sweeping injunction issued two years ago against the Blythe Street Gang.

The court's ruling, based on interpretation of complex legal procedure, means that prosecutors have to start over in about a dozen cases, said Richard A. Schmidt, supervisor at the Van Nuys branch of the city attorney's office.

Left undecided is a central issue--whether the injunction itself passes legal muster. That decision, the court said, has to wait for a conviction that is rightfully obtained in the proper court.

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