On appeal from the Atlantic County Court.
For reversal -- Chief Justice Vanderbilt, and Justices Heher, Oliphant, Wachenfeld, Burling, Jacobs and Brennan. For affirmance -- None. The opinion of the court was delivered by Wachenfeld, J.
The United States of America appeals from a judgment entered in the Atlantic County Court, 36 N.J. Super. 455, rejecting the adverse recommendations of the naturalization examiner and granting the respondent's petition for citizenship. Deeming it a cause of public concern, we granted certification prior to argument in the Appellate Division.
Power to determine applications of aliens to become United States citizens is conferred upon the County and Superior Courts by N.J.S. 2 A:53-1, and it is not disputed
that a judgment granting a naturalization petition is final and therefore appealable. Tutun v. U.S., 270 U.S. 568, 46 S. Ct. 425, 70 L. Ed. 738 (1925).
The issue presented is governed by the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1940. The pertinent section of this act, 54 Stat. 1142, sec. 307(a), 8 U.S.C. 707(a), repealed 66 Stat. 280,*fn1 provides in substance that no petitioner shall be granted naturalization unless he shows that for a period of five years prior to the date of filing his petition he "* * * has been and still is a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States."
The inquiry here is whether the respondent, within this statutory definition, established good moral character.
Prior to filing the present petition in September 1952, the respondent Reginelli had filed three previous petitions for naturalization, with the following results:
(1) Petition filed June 2, 1937 in the Court of Common Pleas, Northumberland County, Sunbury, Pennsylvania -- denied October 5, 1939 for lack of prosecution;
(2) Petition filed October 10, 1944 in the United States District Court of Camden, New Jersey -- denied October 17, 1949 by then Chief Judge Fake, who found Reginelli was not of good moral character because of a Mann Act, 18 U.S.C.A. §§ 2421-2423, conviction which occurred in 1942, within five years of the date of the filing of the petition. See Petition of Reginelli, 86 F. Supp. 599 (D.C.N.J. 1949);
(3) Petition filed March 23, 1950 in the United States District Court of Camden, New Jersey -- denied August 4, 1950 on Reginelli's own motion.
The instant effort is the respondent's fourth attempt at naturalization. His petition, after being denied by the naturalization examiner, was granted on June 21, 1955 in the Atlantic County Court, the petitioner claiming his ...