December 11, 2013 4th Circuit published opinions

Injeti v United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

Injeti applied for naturalization. The government denied her application and the district court affirmed. The panel also affirmed. It held that the Services’ interpretation of 8 USC 1101(a)(20) to require both procedural compliance and actual lawful compliance with the permanent residency requirements in order to be eligible for naturalization. Here, Injeti failed to so qualify as she falsely stated on her permanent residency application she had been married once when in reality she had been married twice. This was material information as the Services would have investigated and would have discovered the fraudulent death certificate earlier. Thus, Injeti failed to prove lawful residence and the judgment must be affirmed. The panel vacated a portion of the judgment finding Injeti lacked good moral character as unnecessary and potentially prejudicial for future immigration actions.

Pastora v Holder

Pastora sought relief from removal. This was denied based on the persecutor bar in the immigration code. The panel affirmed. It held that evidence that Pastora belonged to a civil patrol in areas and during times when human rights abuses were rampant in El Salvador including in the towns Pastora lived in triggered the bar and Pastora presented insufficient evidence to overcome the bar. It also held that Pastora’s inconsistencies on his position in the patrol, his training whether or not he knew what guerillas killed his brother and would thus be after him as well supported an adverse credibility determination.

United States v Simmons

Simmons was convicted of running a Ponzi scheme and of money laundering for sending money to early investors. The panel, 2-1, reversed the money laundering convictions and remanded for resentencing. The majority held that the payments to the early investors were necessary expenses in the operation of the scheme and thus could not, under the United States Supreme Court case of United sates v Santos, serve as the basis for money laundering convictions. It rejected the government’s counterarguments holding the scheme was one continuing crime, like the Santos gambling scheme, payments to early investors were like payments to lottery winners in Santos and the regularity of payment was irrelevant to the proper characterization of the payments as essential expenses. The dissent argued that the payments were not expenses of the crime as the fraud was complete when Simmons received the early investors’ money. Thus, the dissent would hold the payments were distinct crimes and double punishment was authorized.

Seney v Rent-A-Center, Inc.

Seney rented a bed and frame from Center which was infested with bedbugs. Seney sued center which moved for arbitration under the lease agreement. The district court granted the motion and the panel affirmed. It held that under the implementing regulations of the Magnusson-Moss Act, binding arbitration may be required in lease agreements as the prohibition on binding arbitration applies only to sales contracts. Here, title did not pass to Seney and thus the arbitration order was correct.

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