Plaintiff's Moral Character
Plaintiff in this case has committed a single offense, DWI, during the five year statutory period preceding his application for naturalization. That offense, however, is only one in a series of five DWI convictions spanning a ten year period. While none of the other offenses occurred during the five year statutory period, under 8 C.F.R. § 316.10 (a)(2), quoted above, plaintiff's prior convictions are "relevant and a proper subject of inquiry to determine whether he has in effect reformed." In re Tieri, 457 F.2d at 393. This court finds that he has not.
Drunk driving is "an urgent, nationwide problem of staggering proportion," Dalton v. Ashcroft, 257 F.3d 200, at *21 (2d Cir. 2001), and must be considered as a strong negative factor in assessing plaintiff's moral character. Le v. Elwood, 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6635, at *8 (E.D. Pa. 2003). Plaintiff in this case has not presented any convincing evidence of his rehabilitation from his previous socially-harmful behavior. Other than his participation in a court-ordered program, plaintiff has not undergone any formal treatment for his admitted and lengthy alcohol problem. His testimony regarding drinking and driving did not establish that he has in fact reformed Plaintiff does not accept responsibility for his past actions, claiming that he is innocent of a DWI offense to which he pled guilty. He further claims that he cannot recall the circumstances which gave rise to his other DWI arrests. Plaintiffs sole proffer in relation to his rehabilitation consists of his role in producing his for-profit seminar on "Positive Thinking." In light of the fact that plaintiff's copyright for his Institute for the Art of Thinking Positively was obtained in September 1985, almost a decade prior to his 1994 offense, this participation is unpersuasive evidence of plaintiffs rehabilitation.
Plaintiff has also previously been convicted of attempted rape in the third degree, a crime of moral turpitude which, had it occurred during the five year statutory period, would alone preclude a finding of good moral character. Castle v. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 541 F.2d 1064, 1066 (4th Cir. 1976); In re Torres-Varela, 23 I. & N. Dec. 78, at *15 (BIA 2001). Plaintiff's claim of actual innocence in relation to that offense (to which he pled guilty) and his failure to demonstrate remorse for his actions towards the victim, support this court's finding that plaintiff has not been rehabilitated and does not presently possess the good moral character required for citizenship.
Finally, I note plaintiff's overall lack of candor during this court's January 29, 2003 hearing. See Kovacs v. United States, 476 F.2d 843, 845 (2d Cir. 1973) (finding of good moral character precluded by "lack of candor under oath"). Plaintiff's testimony at the hearing does not necessarily constitute false testimony within the meaning of 8 U.S.C. § 1101 (f)(6) (precluding finding of moral character where an applicant "has given false testimony for the purpose of obtaining [immigration] benefits"). See Rodriguez-Gutierrez v. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 59 F.3d 504, 507 (5th Cir. 1995) (a finding of lack of credibility does not alone justify the conclusion that false testimony has been given). However, his failure to accept responsibility for and provide candid testimony regarding his past criminal behavior and his lack of candor regarding drinking, driving, and other matters, precludes a finding that plaintiff presently meets the good moral character requirement of citizenship. See Le, 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6635, at *9 n. 6.
Plaintiff's 1994 DWI conviction, failure to accept responsibility for his past crimes, failure to establish his claim of rehabilitation, and lack of candor, taken together, preclude a finding of good moral character in accord with current moral conventions. Plaintiff's application for naturalization is therefore denied.
© 1992-2004 VersusLaw Inc.