For the fourth time in ten years, the DuPage County States Attorneys Office filed a civil lawsuit against 10 men who they allege are gang members. The lawsuit names 10 men who are alleged to have been involved in stabbings, beatings, drug crimes, graffiti, forgery, intimidation, weapons violations and numerous other crimes. A little known 1993 state law allows for local officials to seek civil remedies against gang members. The 10 men have been identified by Addison police as being involved in gang activity. The prior lawsuits have been met with limited success. The first lawsuit was declared unconstitutional, but an appellate court returned the case to the trial court and the trial court issued an injunction forbidding gang members from associating but refused to impose a $525,000 civil penalty against the gang members. Similar lawsuits have been successful in other states. However, civil libertarians and many criminal defense attorneys are highly critical of such lawsuits, afraid that law-abiding citizens can be wrongly wrapped up in such lawsuits.
Cook County has decided not to file such lawsuits because of the difficulty in enforcing any injunctions. DuPage County prosecutors insist that these lawsuits have played a big role in keeping gang violence to a minimum.
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