United States v. Hamed, No. 19-1184 (8th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
At issue in this appeal is what effect, if any, a guilty plea has on later denaturalization proceedings. In this case, defendant had pleaded guilty to violating and conspiring to violate Iraqi sanctions and to misusing his organization's tax exempt status and omitting relevant, material information from tax forms. Eight years after pleading guilty and eighteen years after first becoming a citizen, the government commenced proceedings to denaturalize defendant. The district court agreed with the government that defendant's failure to disclose his criminal activities called for denaturalization.
The Eighth Circuit held that all three judicial estoppel factors favored applying the doctrine: first, the court stated that defendant's current position is clearly inconsistent with the one from his criminal proceeding; second, the district court had to accept the plea's factual basis, including defendant's statements during the plea colloquy; and third, defendant would derive an unfair advantage if he were allowed to change his position now. Therefore, the court cannot say that the district court abused its discretion in refusing to consider defendant's lack-of-knowledge defense. Finally, the court rejecting defendant's defense of laches because the doctrine of laches does not apply to the United States when it is acting in its sovereign capacity.