Mongols Biker Club Can Keep Their Logo, Judge Rules

SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) — In an unprecedented ruling, a federal judge blocked the U.S. government Thursday from stripping the Mongol Nation Motorcycle Club of its identifying logo. U.S. District Judge David O. Carter found that allowing federal prosecutors to use criminal forfeiture laws to take control of the Mongols’ trademarks in their “patch” designs – often worn on the bikers’ vests – would violate the club’s rights to free speech and association and constitute an excessive fine, prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. Allowing the forfeiture “immediately chills” the rights of the club and its members to wear or use the symbols. Therefore, “the forced transfer of the collective membership marks to the United States violates the First Amendment,” the Orange County-based judge wrote in his 51-page ruling. The judge also ruled that taking away the rights to “a symbol that has been in continuous use by an organization since 1969” would be “unjustified and grossly disproportionate” to the group’s crime, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Carter refused to throw out a December 2017 jury verdict finding the Mongol Nation guilty of racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering in connection with a murder, an attempted murder and two drug sales by club members and associates over several years. He also upheld the jury’s decision permitting forfeiture of a number of physical items seized by law enforcement, including guns, ammunition and knick-knacks bearing the club logo. Las Vegas attorney Steven Stubbs, the Mongol Nation’s general counsel, said he and the club are “ecstatic that we could defend the First Amendment for the members and all motorcycle clubs.” Stubbs described the prosecutors’ forfeiture attempt as “a massive overreach” and an attempt to control symbolic speech. In a statement, the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles said it is disappointed by Carter’s […]

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