What the Public Needs to Know about Tiny Doo and the Prosecution of the Lincoln Park Blood Gang

Recently, the arrest and prosecution of rapper Brandon Duncan, aka “Tiny Doo” has garnered national headlines because he’s been arrested and charged with a crime based on the content of his music.  I am the attorney for Duncan’s co-defendant Glenn Gray.

Duncan and the other men are being prosecuted under Penal Code § 182.5 on the theory that they benefited from several shootings in 2013.  For many of the defendants, including my client Glenn Gray, the prosecution admits there is no evidence that they participated in or had knowledge of any of the shootings.  Instead, the San Diego District Attorney theorizes that these men benefited from the shootings because their reputation in the gang (and on a larger scale, in the community) improved as a result.  The prosecution’s key evidence is law enforcement testimony in the form of “gang experts” and facebook photos and postings.

The media has missed some key points in their coverage of this case.  Here are my initial impressions of the problematic legal issues:

  1. Duncan is not the only defendant whose constitutional rights are being trampled by the government.  The public and media seem to be concerned only with Duncan, who they view as being prosecuted for the content of his music.  The real travesty in this case is that Duncan, along with his co-defendants, are being prosecuted for crimes that even the prosecution admits they had nothing to do with.  Most of the co-defendants in the case are similarly situated as Duncan in that they are not principal actors in any of the shootings. What I mean is that they were not directly involved in nor did they have any direct knowledge of the shootings.  For example, my client, Glenn Gray, was actually incarcerated in federal custody at the time five (5) of the shootings took place.
  2. The California State Assembly thought Penal Code § 182.5 was unconstitutional when it was initially placed on the ballot in 1998.  (See State Assembly AB 26 Bill from 1998.)  State legislators called the statute “vague and ambiguous.”  Understandably, they had concerns that it unconstitutionally rendered each gang member liable for every crime committed by a fellow gang member.  It was defeated at the State Assembly.  It only became law two years later in 2000 when it was put in the hands of the general electorate under Proposition 21.  The public most likely didn’t have a thorough understanding of the constitutional implications of the law and were surely inundated with the pro-law-enforcement ad campaign supporting it.
  3. The law was literally written and sponsored by the prosecution.  Seriously.  The California District Attorneys Association (CDAA) is a professional association of California prosecutors that partakes in lobbying activities.  The San Diego District Attorney’s Office works closely with the CDAA.  They were the main drafter and sponsor of both 1998 Assembly Bill AB-26 and Proposition 21.  No wonder the law seems to create a seemingly endless reach of government to incarcerate individuals even with little or no evidence of real criminal culpability.

Shouldn’t we stop and think before creating laws that incarcerate individuals for crimes they didn’t even commit?

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