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Duvall v. Elwood

July 11, 2003

ANDREA PATRICIA DUVALL
v.
KENNETH JOHN ELWOOD, DISTRICT DIRECTOR, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
KENNETH ELWOOD, PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT DIRECTOR OF THE IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE, APPELLANT



On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (D.C. Civ. No. 02-CV-2081) District Judge: Honorable Edmund V. Ludwig

Before: Scirica, Chief Judge, Ambro and Garth, Circuit Judges

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Garth, Circuit Judge

PRECEDENTIAL

Argued: Thursday, April 24, 2003

OPINION OF THE COURT

The Government appeals from an order of the District Court granting Andrea Duvall's habeas corpus petition. The District Court ruled that the Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA") erred when it held that the doctrine of collateral estoppel did not bar the Immigration and Naturalization Service ("Service") from relitigating Duvall's alienage during a different proceeding involving two new crimes she committed.

We do not reach the merits of the collateral estoppel question decided in Duvall's favor by the District Court. Instead, we hold that the District Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain Duvall's habeas corpus petition. Accordingly, we will vacate the District Court's judgment*fn1 and remand with a direction that the District Court dismiss Duvall's habeas petition.

I.

The District Court held that it had jurisdiction over this habeas action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1291 and 2253. We have plenary review over a district court's grant of a habeas corpus petition, see Yang v. Maugans, 68 F.3d 1540, 1546 (3d Cir. 1995), and a district court's subject matter jurisdiction. See Growth Horizons, Inc. v. Delaware Country, Pa., 983 F.2d 1277, 1280 (3d Cir. 1993).

II.

Andrea Duvall is a native and citizen of Jamaica who, in October 1993, became a lawful permanent resident in the United States. Since arriving in the United States in 1987, she has been no stranger to crime. In 1989, she pled guilty to crimes of petit larceny and retail theft, and was convicted of another incident of retail theft. Also in that year, she pled guilty to three other offenses—two for retail theft and one for third-degree felony theft by receiving stolen property. These pleas did not account for all of the other criminal offenses with which she was charged. Other charges were dropped in exchange for her testimony against a co-conspirator. In 1990, Duvall again pled guilty to separate instances of shoplifting and retail theft. In the early 1990s, she was convicted on two more unrelated charges of retail theft and for possession of burglar's tools.

These convictions led to a November 1993 deportation hearing. At that hearing, Duvall refused to answer questions about her alienage. The Service then sought to introduce her application for permanent residence. In that application, Duvall admitted her alienage, but the Immigration Judge ("IJ") excluded the document from evidence as the Service had failed to comply with Local Rules, which required that the document be submitted ten days prior to hearing. Accordingly, the IJ held that the Service could not prove alienage and thus ended the hearing.

Undaunted, Duvall continued her criminal exploits, acquiring two additional felony convictions by 2000.*fn2

Following these convictions and after having been informed of her right to remain silent, on March 12, 2001 she offered a voluntary sworn statement with the Service admitting her alienage. Subsequently, the Service initiated new removal proceedings against her on March 16, 2001, charging that she was an alien subject to removal for having been convicted for two new crimes involving moral turpitude, 8 U.S.C. ยง 1227(a)(2)(A)(ii), and for being convicted of an aggravated felony ...


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