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Piotr Stanislaw Bryjak v. Janet Napolitano

December 14, 2012

PIOTR STANISLAW BRYJAK,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
JANET NAPOLITANO, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William J. Martini, U.S.D.J.:

OPINION

Plaintiff Piotr Stanislaw Bryjak filed this petition against Defendants Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS"), and Alejandro N. Mayorkas, Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS"), seeking review of the denial of his naturalization application. This matter comes before the Court on Defendants' motion to dismiss, or, in the alternative, for summary judgment, and Plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment. Oral argument was held on December 11, 2012. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 78(b). The Court has reviewed the administrative record and the parties' submissions de novo, and has made the findings of fact and conclusions of law set forth below. See 8 U.S.C. § 1421. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED, and Plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment is DENIED.

I.BACKGROUND

The following facts are based on the administrative record and are undisputed.*fn1

Mr. Bryjak is a native and citizen of Poland who first entered the United States in November 1994. Pet. ¶ 10, Nov. 10, 2001, ECF No. 1. Mr. Bryjak has been a lawful permanent resident of the United States since 2005. Pet. Ex. A, ECF No. 1. Mr. Bryjak is married to a U.S. citizen, Magdalena Bryjak, who is an office manager in a medical office. The Bryjaks have two children who are both U.S. citizens: Karol Edward Bryjak, age 7, and Jeffery James Bryjak, age 5. Defs.' Ex. 1 ("Form N-400"), ECF No. 5-2. Mr. Bryjak is employed as a carpenter with Prestige Millwork in Hillsborough, New Jersey. Id. He works steadily and has always paid his taxes. Id.

Mr. Bryjak has been arrested on two occasions. Pet. ¶ 10. He was first arrested on July 9, 2000 in Wallington, New Jersey for having an open container of alcohol in public. Id. On July 17, 2000, he pled guilty to the violation of a municipal ordinance. Id. Mr. Bryjak was also arrested on October 27, 2005 in Paramus, New Jersey for shoplifting. Defs.' Ex. 3, June 29, 2011, ECF No. 5-4. Incident to that arrest, he was taken to the police department, handcuffed to a railing, fingerprinted, photographed, and eventually released forty minutes later with summons to appear in court. Id. Mr. Bryjak appeared in Paramus Municipal Court on November 9, 2005, and pled guilty to shoplifting. Id.

On November 5, 2010, Mr. Bryjak filed a Form N-400 Application for naturalization. See Form N-400; Pet. Ex. B at 3, May 4, 2011, ECF No. 1 ("USCIS Decision"). In response to questions 16 to 19 in the Application, which ask if the applicant has ever been arrested, cited, or convicted, Mr. Bryjak answered "no." Id. at 8. In response to question 23, which asks if the applicant has ever given false or misleading information to a U.S. government official, Mr. Bryjak answered "no." Id. Finally, in Part 12, which asks the applicant to identify anyone who helped the applicant fill out the Application, Mr. Bryjak left the form blank. Id. at 10.

On March 14, 2011, USCIS conducted an in-person examination of Mr. Bryjak in conjunction with his naturalization application. Id. During that examination Mr. Bryjak orally stated under oath that he had been arrested in 1999 for drinking in public in Wallington, NJ. Id. He was further questioned about whether he had been arrested at any other time besides the 1999 arrest. He stated that he had not been arrested at any other time. Id. USCIS denied Mr. Bryjak's naturalization application on May 4, 2011. See USCIS Decision. The denial explains that the adjudications officer found that Mr. Bryjak lacked good moral character because Mr. Bryjak stated in his naturalization interview that he had not been arrested any time other than in 1999. Id.

On or about May 27, 2011, Mr. Bryjak sought administrative review of the denial of his naturalization request. Pet. Ex. C at 1-2, ECF No. 1. USCIS held an administrative hearing on June 29, 2011. Id. In his response to USCIS questions during the hearing, Mr. Bryjak stated that the reason he did not provide information about his 2005 arrest and conviction during his naturalization interview was that he "totally forgot that day." Defs.' Ex. 3 at 2. When asked if he thought USCIS would deny his Application because of his 2005 arrest, he stated, "maybe no because I pay the fine." Id.

A different adjudications officer affirmed the denial on July 21, 2011. Id. Mr. Bryjak filed his Petition in this Court on November 10, 2011. ECF No. 1.

II.LEGAL STANDARD

Defendants now move to dismiss the Petition or, in the alternative, move for summary judgment. See Defs.' Reply Br. at 8, ECF No. 13. Because the Court must consider matters outside the pleadings, the Court will treat Defendants' motion as a motion for summary judgment. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d); Carter v. Stanton, 405 U.S. 669, 671 (1972) (where matters outside the pleadings are presented and not excluded by the court, motion to dismiss should be treated as one for summary judgment). Plaintiff was on notice that these matters would be considered, as Plaintiff filed a cross-motion for summary judgment.

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, the discovery [including, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file] and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56; see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Turner v. Schering-Plough Corp., 901 F.2d 335, 340 (3d Cir. 1990). A factual dispute is genuine if a reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party, and is material if it will affect the outcome of the trial under governing substantive law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 ...


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