Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ninth Circuit Says Not All Conduct Subject To California's Indecent Exposure Law Qualifies as a Crime of Moral Turpitude

"Nude Dancing Is Not Crime of Moral Turpitude"

"A Mexican immigrant's conviction for indecent exposure is not necessarily a crime of 'moral turpitude' warranting deportation, the 9th Circuit ruled Wednesday. The court cited nude dancing as an example of indecent exposure that's not so 'base, vile and depraved' as to 'shock the public conscience.'

Judge Stephen Reinhardt acknowledged that moral turpitude is a 'nebulous' term, but said it was clear that not all conduct banned by California's indecent exposure law falls under the definition of moral turpitude...

Victor Ocegueda Nunez has lived in the United States since 1993, is married and has three children, all of whom are U.S. citizens. In 2003 he was ordered to leave the country based on his illegal status.

He applied for cancellation of removal, claiming his deportation would cause extreme hardship for his wife and children.

The immigration judge found Nunez ineligible for relief based on his convictions for petty theft in 1995 and indecent exposure in 2003. Both were crimes of moral turpitude, the judge said, and two such convictions trigger deportation. The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed.

But the 2-1 panel in San Francisco agreed with Nunez, saying his indecent exposure did not constitute a crime of moral turpitude or vile offensiveness.

Indecent exposure under California law 'is not categorically a crime involving moral turpitude,' Reinhardt ruled, and Nunez should not have been found ineligible for cancellation on those grounds.

'There is simply no overall agreement on many issues of morality in contemporary society,' he wrote, granting Nunez's petition for review."

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