United States v. Title, Civ. No. 17368.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
Citation132 F. Supp. 185
Decision Date08 June 1955
Docket NumberCiv. No. 17368.
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff, v. Sam TITLE, a/k/a Sam Teitelman, Defendant.

Laughlin E. Waters, U. S. Atty., by James R. Dooley, and Arline Martin, Asst. U. S. Attys., Los Angeles, Cal., for plaintiff.

Richard L. Rykoff and Robert L. Brock, Los Angeles, Cal., for defendant.

YANKWICH, Chief Judge.

The action was initiated by the Government under § 340 of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (to be referred to as "the Act of 1952") which authorizes the institution of proceedings to revoke and set aside orders admitting to citizenship and to cancel the certificate of naturalization on the ground that

"such order and certificate of naturalization were procured by concealment of a material fact or by willful misrepresentation."1

This section merely carries over into the present Act the provision of subsection (a), § 338 of the Nationality Act of 1940 (to be referred to as "the Act of 1940") and similar provisions in preceding Acts beginning in 1906. Such statutes have been sustained upon the ground that it is within the constitutional power of the Congress of the United States to enact legislation providing a method for determining, by an orderly judicial proceeding, whether

"one who claims the privilege of citizenship under the certificate of a court has procured that certificate through fraud or other illegal contrivance."2

The Act of 1952 added additional grounds for denaturalization. However, in this action we are concerned only with the provisions of §§ 305 and 307 of the Act of 1940 because the naturalization certificate was issued to the defendant on October 24, 1941.

I The Act of 1940

Section 305 of the Act of 1940 provided, in part:

"No persons shall hereafter be naturalized as a citizen of the United States — * * *
"(b) * * * who is a member of or affiliated with any organization, association, society, or group that believes in, advises, advocates, or teaches —
"(1) the overthrow by force or violence of the Government of the United States * * *.
"The provisions of this section shall be applicable to any applicant for naturalization who at any time within a period of ten years immediately preceding the filing of the petition for naturalization is, or has been, found to be within any of the clauses enumerated in this section notwithstanding that at the time petition is filed he may not be included in such classes."3

Section 307 of the Act of 1940 read, in part:

"(a) No person * * * shall be naturalized unless such petitioner * * * (3) during all the periods referred to in this subsection has been and still is a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States."4

Because citizenship is a valuable right, once it is obtained legally by an alien, the courts must

"jealously guard its revocation."5

And revocation can be granted only if the evidence establishing the ground upon which revocation is sought, whether fraud or other, is

"`clear, unequivocal, and convincing.'"6

In the case before us the Government seeks revocation of citizenship under both sections. In count one of the complaint the Government alleges that the naturalization was procured by concealment and willful misrepresentation, i. e., fraud. The second count is based upon the nonexistence of required qualifications, and states that the defendant was not a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States.

Behind these allegations is the alleged fact of membership of the defendant in the Communist Party and affiliated organizations within a period of ten years immediately preceding the filing of the petition.

We restrict our inquiry as to the latter by pointing to the fact that, while in the present state of public opinion, adherence to Communism or approval of its doctrines reflects on a person's character, to such an extent that it is libel to falsely accuse one of such adherence or approval of ideas,7 — the "good moral character" in the Naturalization Statute has reference to the sum total of tendencies or personal qualities which, in our life, induce us to act in accordance with the accepted moral standards of the time, — "`the commonly accepted mores.'"8

Attachment to the principles of our Government implies full adherence and loyalty to the letter and the spirit of American institutions.9 Suppression and willful concealment of a material fact may indicate a lack of good moral character. For good moral character implies frankness in one's dealing with one's fellow man and with the Government, and full disclosure when a situation demands it, either morally or legally. In this context, evasiveness may be just as reprehensible morally as direct concealment. So the entire problem turns upon the question of the defendant's Communist membership and affiliation. This is at the root of the Government's case.

In one respect this case is unique. In many of the adjudicated cases in which the criteria of proof were laid down10 the court had before it the contradictory testimony offered by the defendant himself or by witnesses who testified in his behalf. In the case before us the defendant did not offer himself as a witness. Called to the witness stand by the Government as an adverse party11 the defendant, other than admitting his signature to certain of the documents executed during the naturalization process, pleaded the privilege against self-incrimination as to all questions relating to his associations or membership in the Communist Party. In this he was sustained by the court being given the full benefit of the latest declaration of the Supreme Court on the subject.12

Having sustained the assertions of this right, I draw no unfavorable inferences from the fact of assertion, adhering to the view stated repeatedly that the contrary attitude does violence to the spirit of our constitutional guaranties.13 Nor shall I draw the justifiable inferences permitted from failure to produce evidence which it was in the power of the defendant to produce.14 However, as stated at the trial, the failure to testify leaves the record without any defensive matter except such as is contained in the cross-examination of the Government's witnesses and some documentary evidence offered by the defendant. For the testimony of the two character witnesses has little significance in a case of this character where, as already indicated, the character of the defendant is not challenged, except insofar as he is charged with certain deliberate and fraudulent concealments of fact. And if these occurred in the naturalization proceedings, the testimony as to good character by witnesses, at least one of whom showed complete unfamiliarity with the charges made in this proceeding, does not help the defendant's cause.

So we are back to the fundamental problems involved, the character of the Communist Party, the defendant's membership in it, his knowledge of its character and the concealment of the fact of membership in the proceedings leading to naturalization.

II The Irrefutable Facts

The defendant was born in 1907 in Nilesht, Bessarabia, which, at the time of his birth, was a part of Roumania, but is now a part of Soviet Russia. He entered the United States at Port Huron, Michigan on June 7, 1923 from Montreal, Canada, his last place of foreign residence. He claimed naturalization by reason of marriage to an American citizen.15 In his petition for naturalization and in his testimony before the Naturalization Examiner on July 30, 1941, he made oath, in substance, as follows:

"It is my intention in good faith to become a citizen of the United States and to renounce absolutely and forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which at this time I am a subject or citizen, and it is my intention to reside permanently in the United States.
"I am not, and have not been for the period of at least 10 years immediately preceding the date of this petition, an anarchist; nor a believer in the unlawful damage, injury, or destruction of property, or sabotage; nor a disbeliever in or opposed to organized government; nor a member of or affiliated with any organization or body of persons teaching disbelief in or opposition to organized government. * * * I am, and have been during all the periods required by law, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States."

On October 24, 1941, immediately prior to admission to citizenship, he took the oath which, at that time, read:

"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion: So Help Me God."

The petitioner also asked that his name be changed from Sam Teitelman to Sam Title, which he had used for some years because of "simple spelling".

The evidence in the record shows clearly that within the ten-year period prior to his application for naturalization, the defendant was a member of the Communist Party, his membership dating, at least, to 1936, when he became a member of the Young Communist League, later becoming a member of its County Committee. The Young Communist League was, at that time, an affiliate of the Communist Party, controlled by it, the key positions in it being held by members of the Communist Party.

In 1937, the defendant became a member of the...

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7 cases
  • Title v. United States, 16074.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • 6 d2 Janeiro d2 1959
    ...is affirmed. 1 Based on § 340 of the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1952, 66 Stat. 260, 8 U.S.C.A. § 1451. 2 United States v. Title, D.C.S.D.Cal.1955, 132 F.Supp. 185. 3 Matles v. United States, No. 378; Lucchese v. United States, No. 450; and Costello v. United States, No. 494, all ......
  • In re Burke, 447606.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • 12 d2 Outubro d2 1971
    ...necessary attachment to imply "full adherence and loyalty to the letter and the spirit of American institutions." United States v. Title, 132 F.Supp. 185, 187 (S.D.Cal.1955), aff'd, 263 F.2d 28 (9th Cir. 1959). Another has said that the term describes "those political and legal institutions......
  • United States v. Stromberg, 15572.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • 15 d2 Novembro d2 1955
    ...17413, both D.C.S.D.Cal., May 31, 1955. Contra: United States v. Leo Fisher, D.C. N.D.Ill., No. 54C614, May 2, 1955; United States v. Title, D.C.S.D.Cal., 132 F. Supp. 185; and United States v. Marco Li Mandri, D.C.S.D.Cal., C.A. 17521, July 21, ...
  • United States v. Marasilis, Misc. No. 127.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District Michigan)
    • 21 d4 Junho d4 1956
    ...1796; Sweet v. United States, 6 Cir., 211 F.2d 118, 120; United States v. Vander Jagt, D.C., 135 F.Supp. 676, 679; United States v. Title, D.C., 132 F.Supp. 185, 187. Section 305 of the Nationality Act of 1940, formerly 8 U.S.C.A. § 705, under which act the defendant was naturalized, provid......
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