United States v. Espinoza-Baza

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Immigration
  • Date Filed: 08-04-2011
  • Case #: 09-10398
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Wallace for the Court; Circuit Judges Noonan and Silverman
  • Full Text Opinion

The defense of derivative citizenship is not appropriate where the theory is not supported in the record by a factual foundation and the proffered evidence is no more than a mere “scintilla of evidence.”

A jury convicted Espinoza-Baza of two counts of illegally reentering the United States. On appeal, Espinoza-Baza challenged the district court’s denial of evidence that his grandfather was born in Texas, the court’s refusal to give the derivative citizenship jury instruction, and his sentence. The Ninth Circuit concluded that Espinoza-Baza’s evidence of his grandfather’s citizenship was relevant to the issue of alienage under Federal Rule of Evidence 403. In Rule 403 rulings, however, substantial deference is given to the district court and the Court held that the district court did not abuse it’s discretion in excluding the evidence. The Court further concluded that the evidence presented an undue risk of jury confusion while providing only marginal probative value. The Ninth Circuit further held that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it found that Espinoza-Baza’s derivative citizenship theory lacked the necessary factual foundation. The evidence relied on by Espinoza-Baza was hearsay and no more than a mere “scintilla of evidence.” The Ninth Circuit finally held that the district court did not err in upwardly adjusting Espinoza-Baza sentence with a multiple count enhancement and the ninety-six month sentence was not substantively unreasonable.

Advanced Search