United States v. Ruiz-Lopez

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 04-25-2014
  • Case #: 13-10093
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Gould for the Court; Senior District Judge Quist and Circuit Judge McKeown
  • Full Text Opinion

To uphold a conviction for illegal reentry after deportation, documents within an individual’s official record of prior encounters with immigration enforcement (“A-file”) may provide sufficient evidence of alienage.

In 2002, Luis Ruiz-Lopez (“Ruiz-Lopez”), a citizen of Mexico, was deported due to his status as an alien. In 2011, Ruiz-Lopez was arrested for illegal reentry. At that trial, the government relied upon Ruiz-Lopez’s A-file from the 2002 incident as evidence of his alienage status. All documents within Ruiz-Lopez’s A-file had been served on him in both English and Spanish and were either initialed or signed by Ruiz-Lopez. Relying upon Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29, Ruiz-Lopez moved for acquittal, arguing the government had not provided sufficient evidence to establish his alienage beyond a reasonable doubt. The district court denied the motion. The Ninth Circuit affirmed. The panel held that a deportation order, on its own, is insufficient to prove alienage. The panel also found that a document commonly contained within a completed A-file, Form I-213, is not a deportation order but merely the beginning of the deportation process. Ruiz-Lopez’s Form I-213 contained his statements, including his admission of reliance upon a paid smuggler to gain illegal entry into the United States. The A-file, in addition to Ruiz-Lopez’s statements and his previous deportation, provides sufficient evidence to prove his alienage. Therefore, there is sufficient evidence to show alienage status and the district court decision is AFFIRMED.

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