United States v. Gayle

Decision Date29 January 2014
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 3:12–CV–1516 (VLB).
Citation996 F.Supp.2d 42
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Connecticut
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff, v. Rory Decordova GAYLE, Defendant.


Carolyn Aiko Ikari, U.S. Attorney's Office, Hartford, CT, for Plaintiff.


VANESSA L. BRYANT, District Judge.

I. Introduction

The United States brings this denaturalization action against Defendant Rory Decordova Gayle, a naturalized U.S. citizen, pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1751(a), on two independent grounds: (1) the Defendant lacked good moral character during the statutory period, and, therefore, was ineligible to naturalize and did so unlawfully; and (2) the Defendant willfully misrepresented and concealed material facts about his criminal conduct during the naturalization process with Immigration and Naturalization Services (“INS”). For the following reasons, the Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.

II. Background

Mr. Gayle was born in Jamaica in 1969 and entered the United States on August 17, 1979 as a lawful permanent resident. [Dkt. 9–1, Memorandum of Law in Support of Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, p. 3; Dkt. 9–1, Immigration Visa and Alien Registration, p. 1]. On January 8, 1999, Gayle, still then a lawful permanent resident of the United States, filed a Form N–400 Application for Naturalization (“N–400”) with the INS. [Dkt. 9–11, Local Rule 56(a)1 Statement, ¶ 2; Dkt. 9–2, N–400 Application for Naturalization, p. 4]. Question 15a of Form N–400 asks: “Have you ever ... knowingly committed any crime for which you have not been arrested?” Gayle answered “No” to that question. [Dkt. 9–11, ¶ 3; Dkt. 9–2, p. 3]. By signature dated January 4, 1999, Gayle signed his N–400 under penalty of perjury, thereby swearing or affirming that the contents of the application, including his response to Question 15a, were true and correct. [Dkt. 9–11, ¶ 4; Dkt. 9–2, p. 4]. On June 21, 1999, Gayle was interviewed under oath by INS District Adjudications Officer (“DAO”) Peggy Keck. [Dkt. 9–11, ¶ 5; Dkt. 9–2, p. 4; Dkt. 9–3, Declaration of Peggy Keck, ¶ 5]. As a matter of practice, DAOs routinely ask the same questions of naturalization applicants, including orally reviewing questions and answers contained in the applicant's N–400. [Dkt. 9–11, ¶ 6; Dkt. 9–3, ¶ 7]. After asking Mr. Gayle selected questions from his N–400, DAO Keck recorded three corrections and advised him, as she did all applicants for naturalization, that if he swore that all of the information provided on the application was true and correct, including the corrections, that he should sign his full and complete name, attesting to the accuracy of the responses and information provided on the application. [Dkt. 9–11, ¶ 7; Dkt. 9–3, ¶ 9]. Gayle affirmed his understanding and signed the N–400 swearing for the second time that the content of the application, including his response to question 15a, was true and correct. [Dkt. 9–11, ¶ 7; Dkt. 9–2, p. 4; Dkt. 9–3. ¶ 9].

On June 30, 1999, Gayle's N–400 was approved, based on his sworn responses to the questions on the form, supporting documentation he provided, and his testimony at the interview. [Dkt. 9–11, ¶ 8; Dkt. 9–2, p. 1; Dkt. 9–3, ¶¶ 9–10]. On August 6, 1999, Gayle appeared at the federal courthouse in Hartford, Connecticut, for his naturalization oath ceremony. [Dkt. 9–11, ¶ 9; Dkt. 9–4, Form N–445 Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony]. Gayle presented INS authorities with his completed N–445 Form, including an answer to Question 3 which asked Gayle whether, since the date of his initial naturalization interview, [h]ave you knowingly committed any crime or offense, [sic] for which you have not been arrested; or you have been arrested, cited, charged, indicted, convicted, fined, or imprisoned for breaking or violating any la or ordinance, including traffic violations?” [Dkt. 9–11, ¶ 10; Dkt. 9–4, p. 2]. Gayle answered [n]o” to this question. [Dkt. 9–11, ¶ 10; Dkt. 9–4, p. 2]. Because Gayle certified that there was no new information that would render him ineligible to naturalize, he was administered the oath of allegiance and was naturalized. [Dkt. 9–11, ¶ 12; Dkt. 9–3, ¶ 11; Dkt. 9–5, Certificate of Naturalization No. 24401225].

On April 27, 2000, Gayle made a three page sworn statement to the Windsor Police Department in Connecticut, confessing to sexually abusing his minor niece on multiple occasions beginning two to three years prior. [Dkt. 9–11, at ¶ 13; Dkt. 9–8, Police Confession, p. 1–3]. On October 30, 2000, Gayle appeared in Connecticut Superior Court and pleaded guilty to two counts of Sexual Assault in the First Degree against a minor, in violation of Conn. Gen.Stat. § 53a–70(a)(2), for crimes committed between November of 1996 and September 1999. [Dkt. 9–11, ¶ 14; Dkt. 9–6, Superior Court Information and Disposition, p. 1; Dkt. 9–7, Plea Colloquy Transcript, p. 2–3, 7–10]. After a thorough canvass, the court accepted Gayle's plea as knowing, intelligent, and voluntary. [Dkt. 9–11, ¶ 15; Dkt. 9–7, 2–22]. Gayle was sentenced to twenty years' incarceration with fifteen years to serve and the remainder suspended, a ten-year period of probation, and lifetime registration as a sex offender. [Dkt. 9–1, p. 5; Dkt. 9–6, p. 1, 3–4]. Gayle is currently incarcerated at the Osborne Correctional Institution located in Somers, Connecticut with a maximum release date of July 14, 2014. [Dkt. 9–1, p. 6; Dkt. 9–9, Department of Correction Inmate Information, p. 1].

The INS claims that had the Defendant represented on his Form N–400, at his interview, or on his Form N–445 that he had committed this crime within the five-year statutory period in which good moral character must be established even though he had not been arrested, he would not have been permitted to naturalize. [Dkt. 9–11, ¶ 16]. Accordingly, the United States filed this civil action to revoke Gayle's naturalization pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1451(a) on October 24, 2012. In response, Gayle's family members in Connecticut have communicated with government counsel, but the Defendant has failed to appear in this matter and has not filed any response to the government's petition.

III. Legal Standard

Summary judgment should be granted “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the burden of proving that no factual issues exist. Vivenzio v. City of Syracuse, 611 F.3d 98, 106 (2d Cir.2010). “In determining whether that burden has been met, the court is required to resolve all ambiguities and credit all factual inferences that could be drawn in favor of the party against whom summary judgment is sought.” Id. (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Matsushita Electric Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986)). “If there is any evidence in the record that could reasonably support a jury's verdict for the nonmoving party, summary judgment must be denied.” Am. Home Assurance Co. v. Hapag Lloyd Container Linie, GmbH, 446 F.3d 313, 315–16 (2d Cir.2006) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

“A party opposing summary judgment cannot defeat the motion by relying on the allegations in his pleading, or on conclusory statements, or on mere assertions that affidavits supporting the motion are not credible. At the summary judgment stage of the proceeding, [the non-movant is] required to present admissible evidence in support of [its] allegations; allegations alone, without evidence to back them up, are not sufficient.” Welch–Rubin v. Sandals Corp., No.3:03cv481, 2004 WL 2472280, at *1 (D.Conn. Oct. 20, 2004) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted); Martinez v. State of Connecticut, 817 F.Supp.2d 28, 37–38 (D.Conn.2011). Where there is no evidence upon which a jury could properly proceed to find a verdict for the party producing it and upon whom the onus of proof is imposed, such as where the evidence offered consists of conclusory assertions without further support in the record, summary judgment may lie. Fincher v. Depository Trust and Clearing Corp., 604 F.3d 712 (2d Cir.2010).

The government bears a tremendous burden in revoking citizenship because United States citizenship has been described as the “highest hope of civilized men,” and “once [it] [has been conferred, it should not be taken away without the clearest sort of justification and proof.” Schneiderman v. United States, 320 U.S. 118, 122, 63 S.Ct. 1333, 87 L.Ed. 1796 (1943). Generally, for the government to succeed in revoking an individual's citizenship, it “must prove its case by clear, unequivocal, and convincing evidence which does not leave the issue in doubt.” United States v. Sprogis, 763 F.2d 115, 121 (2d Cir.1985) (citing Fedorenko v. United States, 449 U.S. 490, 505, 101 S.Ct. 737, 66 L.Ed.2d 686 (1981)). However, [e]ven in denaturalization cases, the facts of a case may be such that revocation of citizenship at the summary judgment stage is appropriate.” United States v. Wasylyk, 162 F.Supp.2d 86, 89 (N.D.N.Y.2001).

Furthermore, a default judgment is valid and permissible in denaturalization actions. See United States v. Karahalias, 205 F.2d 331, 332 (2d Cir.1953) (“The Supreme Court definitely decided in Klapprott v. United States, 335 U.S. 601, 69 S.Ct. 384, 93 L.Ed. 266 (1949), that a judgment by default was valid in a denaturalization action....”). Therefore, it would be permissible for this Court to enter default judgment against the Defendant for his failure to contest the government's petition. However, given the tremendous impact that a ruling on this motion would have on the Defendant and upon review of more authorities questioning the propriety of default judgments in denaturalization hearings, the Court agrees with the...

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