U.S. v. Solano-Godines, SOLANO-GODINE

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore REINHARDT, HALL and THOMPSON; DAVID R. THOMPSON
Citation120 F.3d 957
Parties97 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 5749, 97 Daily Journal D.A.R. 9240 UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Franciscoefendant-Appellant.
Decision Date21 July 1997
Docket NumberNo. 96-10255,D,SOLANO-GODINE

Page 957

120 F.3d 957
97 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 5749, 97 Daily Journal
D.A.R. 9240
UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Francisco SOLANO-GODINES, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 96-10255.
United States Court of Appeals,
Ninth Circuit.
Argued and Submitted March 4, 1997.
Decided July 21, 1997.

Page 958

Robert J. McWhirter, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Phoenix, AZ, for Defendant-Appellant.

Tim Holtzen, Assistant United States Attorney, Phoenix, AZ, for the Plaintiff-Appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Arizona; Stephen M. McNamee, District Judge, Presiding. D.C. No. CR-95-00437-SMM.

Before REINHARDT, HALL and THOMPSON, Circuit Judges.

Page 959

OVERVIEW

DAVID R. THOMPSON, Circuit Judge.

Francisco Solano-Godines (Solano) appeals his conviction and sentence after conditionally pleading guilty to one count of illegal reentry after deportation following a felony conviction, in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1326(b)(1), and one count of false representation of United States citizenship, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 911. He argues the district court erred in denying his pretrial motion to suppress statements he made at a prior civil deportation hearing because (1) he did not receive Miranda warnings before he made the statements, and (2) the statements were involuntary in light of the immigration judge's ability to draw an adverse inference from his silence. Solano also argues the district court erred in imposing a two-level upward adjustment in his base offense level under United States Sentencing Guideline section 3C1.1 for obstruction of justice.

We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 and 18 U.S.C. § 3742. We affirm Solano's conviction but vacate his sentence and remand for resentencing. 1

FACTS

On December 7, 1993, almost two years before the government brought the current charges, Solano appeared at a deportation hearing and responded to questioning by the immigration judge. In these responses, Solano made statements about his place of birth, citizenship, prior convictions, and prior lawful deportations. Like other typical respondents at deportation hearings, Solano was not given a Miranda warning. He was deported following the deportation hearing.

About two years later, at 11:00 a.m. on December 1, 1995, Solano attempted to enter the United States through the pedestrian lanes at the San Luis Port of Entry in Arizona. He told a U.S. customs officer that he was a United States citizen and presented a birth certificate bearing the name Jose Armando Gonzales. The customs officer detected some nervousness on Solano's part and some possible irregularities on his birth certificate. He therefore escorted Solano to the secondary inspection area for further investigation.

Inside the Immigration & Naturalization Service (INS) office, INS Inspector Raymond Nagy ran a computerized criminal history check on the name and birth date written on the birth certificate Solano had presented to the customs officer. The computer record indicated that Jose Armando Gonzales had an extensive criminal history and was currently serving a life prison sentence in California for murder.

Nagy and another INS inspector, Lisa Stubbs, brought Solano into an interview room. Solano again stated that he was Jose Armando Gonzales, a U.S. citizen born in California. He showed the inspectors additional false identification documents bearing the name Jose Armando Gonzales including a California identification card and a social security card.

Stubbs informed Solano that he was under arrest and recited the Miranda warnings. Although Solano refused to sign the INS's waiver-of-rights form, he did not request an attorney nor did he refuse to answer questions. The inspectors obtained inked fingerprint samples from Solano and faxed these to the FBI at approximately 11:30 a.m., hoping to determine the identity of the man they had in custody.

While the inspectors waited for the results of the fingerprint comparison, they left Solano alone in an interview room. At about 3 p.m. Officer Nagy called the FBI to check on the status of the fingerprint comparison, and was told the report was not yet ready.

No one from the INS questioned Solano further until about 4 p.m., when Inspector Joe Magana came on duty. Magana entered the interview room, and after a short conversation with Solano, Solano agreed to sign the waiver-of-rights form. He signed the form using his alias, "Jose Gonzales."

Magana then left to perform other duties. He returned about an hour later and told Solano that the person he claimed to be was

Page 960

supposed to be in prison for murder. Solano stated that he had been in prison for murder, but was released after the real killer, a buddy of his, was caught.

Between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. one of the INS officers called the FBI to check on the status of the fingerprint results, and was informed that the FBI had lost Solano's fingerprint samples. The officers then faxed the FBI a new set.

At about 9:20 p.m., Inspector Luis Lemus called the California Department of Corrections to try to determine if Jose Armando Gonzales was actually in prison. After a few phone calls, he reached an officer at Pelican Bay who verified that Gonzales was in fact in custody at Pelican Bay as they spoke.

Inspectors Magana and Lemus told Solano they had verified that Jose Armando Gonzales was currently in prison at Pelican Bay. Solano then admitted his true name and that he was a citizen of Mexico, born in Acapulco. Soon after, at 10:08 p.m., the inspectors received a fax from the FBI, reporting that the fingerprint samples matched their records for Francisco Solano-Godines.

Solano was charged with illegal reentry after deportation following a felony conviction and false representation of United States citizenship. He filed a pretrial motion to suppress the statements he made two years earlier at his deportation hearing and the documentary "fruits" of those statements. The district court denied this motion. Solano then entered his conditional guilty pleas.

At sentencing, Solano objected to the presentence report's recommendation that the court upwardly adjust his base offense level for obstruction of justice under Sentencing Guideline § 3C1.1. The district court imposed the two-level adjustment and explained:

I find from the facts of the case, the defendant in fact attempted to obstruct justice in this case. He went beyond the means of the indictment in this case in merely presenting a false name. Because when confronted with the fact that the true facts were known, he did not recant. He kept up with ... this charade of false statements, and sent the government on a wild goose chase, which in fact required other investigative techniques over a 10- to 12-hour period of time, And I believe ... that he's entitled to the two point enhancement.

The district court sentenced Solano to a 32-month prison term for each count to be served concurrently, followed by three years of supervised release.

DISCUSSION

A. Suppression of Statements Made at Prior Civil Deportation Hearing

Solano first argues the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress statements he made at his deportation hearing two years before the current charge. The statements include responses to the immigration judge's questions as to his place of birth, his citizenship, and his prior convictions and deportations. Solano argues these statements should have been suppressed because (1) he was not given Miranda warnings before questioning at his deportation hearing, and (2) his statements were involuntary due to the immigration judge's ability to draw a negative inference from his silence if he had refused to answer questions at that hearing. We conclude the district court did not err in denying Solano's motion to suppress these statements.

1. Miranda Warnings Not Required

Solano argues he was entitled to Miranda warnings during his deportation hearing because the statements he made in answer to the immigration judge's questions might have been incriminating.

Solano's statements were not obtained in violation of Miranda. Miranda warnings are not required before questioning in the context of a civil deportation hearing. Trias-Hernandez v. I.N.S., 528 F.2d 366, 368 (9th Cir.1975). Statements made at a deportation hearing are admissible at the deportation hearing despite the absence of Miranda warnings. Nai Cheng Chen v. I.N.S., 537 F.2d 566, 568 (1st Cir.1976). This is because deportation proceedings are not criminal prosecutions, but are civil in nature. Id. "[T]he full panoply of ... procedural and

Page 961

substantive safeguards which are provided in a criminal proceeding are not required at a deportation hearing." Id. In Trias-Hernandez, we explained that "the substantial distinctions between a deportation proceeding and a criminal trial make Miranda warnings inappropriate in the deportation context." Trias-Hernandez, 528 F.2d at 368.

A principal purpose of the Miranda warnings is to permit the suspect to make an intelligent decision as to whether to answer the government agent's questions. (Citations omitted.) In deportation proceedings, however-in light of the alien's burden of proof, the requirement that the alien answer non-incriminating questions, the potential adverse consequences to the alien of remaining silent, and the fact that an alien's statement is admissible in the deportation hearing despite his lack of counsel at the preliminary interrogation-Miranda warnings would be not only inappropriate but could also serve to mislead the alien.

Id. (quoting Chavez-Raya v. INS, 519 F.2d 397, 402 (7th Cir.1975)). Thus, the immigration judge's questioning, without giving Solano a Miranda warning, did not violate Miranda in the context of the civil deportation proceeding.

Solano argues, however, that his unwarned statements should nevertheless have been excluded in any subsequent criminal trial. He relies upon United States...

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53 practice notes
  • Southern Union Co. v. Southwest Gas Corp., No. CV-99-1294-PHX-ROS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. District of Arizona
    • January 4, 2002
    ...to civil actions when they refuse to testify in response to probative evidence offered against them[.]"); United States v. Solano-Godines, 120 F.3d 957, 962 (9th Cir. 1997) ("In civil proceedings ... the Fifth Amendment does not forbid fact finders from drawing adverse inferences against a ......
  • 36170 Realty Ltd. v. Boyd, 56347/2011
    • United States
    • New York Civil Court
    • February 22, 2021
    ...Aderonmu v. Heavey , 00 Civ. 9232, 2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 640, at *9 (S.D. NY Jan. 26, 2001). See also, United States v. Solano-Godines , 120 F.3d 957 (9th Cir.1997) United States v. Kadem , 317 F. Supp. 2d 239 (W.D.N.Y. 2004) ; Cyrus v. City of New York , 450 Fed. Appx. 24, 25 (2d Cir. 2011......
  • Singh v. Gonzales, No. 03-74390.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • June 12, 2007
    ...judge may draw an inference that readily available testimony not presented would be unfavorable); United States v. Solano-Godines, 120 F.3d 957, 962 (9th Cir.1997) (immigration judge may draw an adverse inference from a defendant's silence in response to questioning in civil deportation The......
  • In re National Audit Defense Network, Bankruptcy No. BK-S-03-17306-BAM.
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Ninth Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — District of Nevada
    • April 24, 2007
    ...308, 318, 96 S.Ct. 1551, 47 L.Ed.2d 810 (1976); S.E.C. v. Colello, 139 F.3d 674, 677-78 (9th Cir. 1998); United States v. Solano-Godines, 120 F.3d 957, 962 (9th Cir.1997) ("In civil proceedings, however, the Fifth Amendment does not forbid fact finders from drawing adverse inferences agains......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
52 cases
  • Southern Union Co. v. Southwest Gas Corp., No. CV-99-1294-PHX-ROS.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. District of Arizona
    • January 4, 2002
    ...to civil actions when they refuse to testify in response to probative evidence offered against them[.]"); United States v. Solano-Godines, 120 F.3d 957, 962 (9th Cir. 1997) ("In civil proceedings ... the Fifth Amendment does not forbid fact finders from drawing adverse inferences against a ......
  • 36170 Realty Ltd. v. Boyd, 56347/2011
    • United States
    • New York Civil Court
    • February 22, 2021
    ...Aderonmu v. Heavey , 00 Civ. 9232, 2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 640, at *9 (S.D. NY Jan. 26, 2001). See also, United States v. Solano-Godines , 120 F.3d 957 (9th Cir.1997) United States v. Kadem , 317 F. Supp. 2d 239 (W.D.N.Y. 2004) ; Cyrus v. City of New York , 450 Fed. Appx. 24, 25 (2d Cir. 2011......
  • Singh v. Gonzales, No. 03-74390.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • June 12, 2007
    ...judge may draw an inference that readily available testimony not presented would be unfavorable); United States v. Solano-Godines, 120 F.3d 957, 962 (9th Cir.1997) (immigration judge may draw an adverse inference from a defendant's silence in response to questioning in civil deportation The......
  • In re National Audit Defense Network, Bankruptcy No. BK-S-03-17306-BAM.
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Ninth Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — District of Nevada
    • April 24, 2007
    ...308, 318, 96 S.Ct. 1551, 47 L.Ed.2d 810 (1976); S.E.C. v. Colello, 139 F.3d 674, 677-78 (9th Cir. 1998); United States v. Solano-Godines, 120 F.3d 957, 962 (9th Cir.1997) ("In civil proceedings, however, the Fifth Amendment does not forbid fact finders from drawing adverse inferences agains......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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