Mondaca-Vega v. Holder

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Immigration
  • Date Filed: 12-15-2015
  • Case #: 03-71369
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Hurwitz for the Court; Chief Judge Thomas, Circuit Judges Pregerson, Kozinski, Silverman, Fletcher, Rawlinson, Bybee, Smith, Murguia, and Nguyen; Partial Concurrence and Partial Dissent by Smith; Partial Concurrence and Partial Dissent by Murguia
  • Full Text Opinion

When important individual interests are at stake, the court applies the intermediate standard of proof, which may be articulated as either “clear and convincing” or “clear, unequivocal, and convincing.”

The petitioner was placed in removal proceedings. At an immigration hearing, the judge held by “clear, convincing and unequivocal” evidence that the petitioner was a non-citizen. The Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) affirmed. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit found that the claim of citizenship presented a genuine issue of material fact and transferred the proceedings to the district court for de novo review of the alienage issue. The district court determined that the petitioner carried his initial burden of proof by offering a U.S. passport and showing that his wife and children had obtained citizenship through him. The district court shifted the burden to the government to rebut the claim of citizenship by “clear and convincing” evidence and found it met its burden. The Ninth Circuit, en banc, determined there was no clear error in the district court’s conclusion and voted to rehear the case. The Court found that the petitioner had introduced sufficient evidence that he was a U.S. citizen, and the burden was properly shifted to the government to rebut by “clear, unequivocal, and convincing” evidence, which the government satisfied. The Court held that the phrase “clear, unequivocal and convincing” may be used interchangeably with “clear and convincing.” The Court held that the addition of the word “unequivocal” was not a higher burden of proof than the regular intermediate standard, and was just one of the many articulations of the intermediate standard of proof. The Court held that “clear, unequivocal, and convincing” is the standard used in civil cases when important individual interests are at stake, such as in an alienage case. The Court found no error in the district court’s application of the burden of proof. The Court denied the petitioner’s petition for review from the Board of Immigration Appeals’ decision. PETITION DENIED.

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