United States v. Fomichev, No. 16-50227 (9th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
The Ninth Circuit vacated the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress in a case where he was convicted of four counts of making false statements on immigration documents. Defendant sought to suppress recordings of conversations with his wife and his wife's testimony describing the conversation.
The panel held that the district court erred by extending the sham marriage exception to the marital communications privilege. The district court did not make a finding about whether the marriage was irreconcilable when the IRS recorded defendant's statements, which would render the marital communications privilege inapplicable. Therefore, the panel remanded for the district court to rule on the issue of irreconcilability. Finally, the panel held that the evidence was sufficient to support the jury's finding that defendant understood the documents he signed, and the panel declined to reach defendant's remaining arguments.