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Escobedo-Gonzalez v. Kerry

United States District Court, D. Nevada

April 20, 2017

JOHN KERRY, et al., Defendant(s).


         Presently before the court is plaintiff Mario Escobedo-Gonzalez's motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 18). Defendant Secretary of the Department of State John Kerry (the “government”) filed a response (ECF No. 22), to which Escobedo replied (ECF No. 25).

         I. Facts

         This case is about the Department of State's (“DOS”) denying Escobedo a passport on the grounds that he did not provide the requested evidence to show that he is a U.S. citizen. On January 23, 1987, the United States Department of Justice, through the Immigration and Nationalization Service (“INS”), began removal proceedings against Escobedo. (ECF No. 13). The INS argued that Escobedo was born in Mexico and not in Cameron County, Texas, as reported in his birth certificate. (ECF No. 13). The INS received evidence that the nurse who signed Escobedo's birth certificate was not actually present during his birth. (ECF No. 18-3). The immigration judge ruled in favor of Escobedo finding that INS failed to satisfy its burden to prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that he was a deportable foreign national.[1] (ECF No. 18-3).

         After this ruling, Escobedo applied for a passport with the DOS. (ECF No. 13). The DOS approved Escobedo's application and issued him a passport on July 21, 1995. (ECF No. 18-4). Escobedo applied to renew his passport on March 28, 2005, and the DOS issued his renewal on April 13, 2005. (ECF No. 18-4).

         On April 7, 2015, Escobedo applied for his second passport renewal. (ECF No. 18-4). On May 7, 2015, the DOS requested Escobedo's certified birth certificate to prove his citizenship because the evidence had surfaced that the midwife who signed Escobedo's birth certificate was not present at his birth. (ECF No. 18). Escobedo, through his counsel, responded with a letter and attached the immigration judge's opinion which had resolved the issues that the DOS was concerned with during a removal proceeding. (ECF No. 18-5). The DOS responded with an additional letter again requesting Escobedo's birth certificate, or other documentation to prove that Escobedo was born in the United States, to which Escobedo did not respond. (ECF No. 18-5). Two months later, the DOS denied Escobedo's renewal request because Escobedo did not provide his birth certificate, and because the DOS did not believe that Escobedo had proven his citizenship by a preponderance of the evidence. (ECF No. 18-5).

         Escobedo filed the underlying complaint alleging that the DOS's actions in denying his passport renewal violates 8 U.S.C. § 1503 and asks the court to declare under 28 U.S.C § 2201 that Escobedo is a U.S. citizen. (ECF No. 13).

         In the instant motion, Escobedo moves for summary judgement on that claim. (ECF No. 18).

         II. Legal Standard

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allow summary judgment when the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A principal purpose of summary judgment is “to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986).

         For purposes of summary judgment, disputed factual issues should be construed in favor of the non-moving party. Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed., 497 U.S. 871, 888 (1990). However, to be entitled to a denial of summary judgment, the nonmoving party must “set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id.

         In determining summary judgment, a court applies a burden-shifting analysis. The moving party must first satisfy its initial burden. “When the party moving for summary judgment would bear the burden of proof at trial, it must come forward with evidence which would entitle it to a directed verdict if the evidence went uncontroverted at trial. In such a case, the moving party has the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of fact on each issue material to its case.” C.A.R. Transp. Brokerage Co. v. Darden Rests., Inc., 213 F.3d 474, 480 (9th Cir. 2000) (citations omitted).

         By contrast, when the nonmoving party bears the burden of proving the claim or defense, the moving party can meet its burden in two ways: (1) by presenting evidence to negate an essential element of the non-moving party's case; or (2) by demonstrating that the non-moving party failed to make a showing sufficient to establish an element essential to that party's case on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323-24. If the moving party fails to meet its initial burden, summary judgment must be denied and the court need not consider the nonmoving party's evidence. See Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 159- 60 (1970).

         If the moving party satisfies its initial burden, the burden then shifts to the opposing party to establish that a genuine issue of material fact exists. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). To establish the existence of a factual dispute, the opposing party need not establish a material issue of fact conclusively in its favor. It is sufficient that “the claimed factual dispute be shown to require a jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth at trial.” T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pac. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 631 (9th Cir. 1987).

         In other words, the nonmoving party cannot avoid summary judgment by relying solely on conclusory allegations that are unsupported by factual data. See Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). Instead, the opposition must go beyond the assertions and allegations of the pleadings and set forth specific facts by ...

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