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Bruce v. United States

July 13, 2006

MURRAY FLOYD BRUCE PLAINTIFF
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: (chief Judge Vanaskie)

MEMORANDUM

On August 17, 2005, the Grand Jury for this District returned a two-count indictment against Defendant Murray Floyd Bruce. (Dkt. Entry 1.) Mr. Bruce was charged with: (1) seeking to prevent and hamper his removal from the United States in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1253(a)(1)(C); and (2) making false representations to the Bureau of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement ("BICE") regarding his citizenship in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001(a)(2). It is the Government's contention that since the time of his initial entry into the United States on May 30, 1989, Mr. Bruce has falsely claimed to have been born in Bermuda in order to avoid being deported to Nigeria. In support of its case, the Government intends to introduce various statements made by Mr. Bruce, including a May 30, 1989 "record of sworn statement in affidavit form" made to U.S. immigration officials upon Bruce's arrival at the JFK Airport in New York City on a "transit without visa" status; an October 26, 1990 affidavit made by Mr. Bruce in connection with his assertion of unlawful detention; an August 31, 1991 affidavit made by Bruce in support of an application for judicial review; an affidavit of Mr. Bruce dated August 13, 2004, given to a BICE official while Bruce was serving a federal prison term on a bank fraud conviction; and an August 3, 2005 "record of sworn statement" made by an immigration officer while Bruce was held in custody by BICE pending removal from the United States as a convicted felon. Bruce has moved to suppress the 1989 statement made upon his arrival in the United States as well as the 2004 and 2005 statements made when he was imprisoned on the ground that they were the products of custodial interrogations undertaken without Miranda warnings. (Dkt. Entry 23.) An evidentiary hearing was held on December 14, 2005. For the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion will be denied as to all statements.

I. BACKGROUND

On May 30, 1989, a plane boarded by Defendant landed at JFK Airport in New York. Defendant was on "transit without visa" status, en route from Nigeria to Bermuda.*fn1 Upon arrival, Defendant was escorted from the airplane by officers of the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service ("INS") and taken to a secondary inspection area. Defendant was questioned by several officers at this inspection area without being given any Miranda warnings. The office in which the questioning occurred was locked from the outside, and Bruce was not free to leave. Defendant was asked questions about his name, citizenship, and the authenticity of his travel documents. After extended separate interrogations on these matters by several different officers, Bruce was informed that he would not be allowed to enter Bermuda with the travel documents he possessed and that he would be returned to Nigeria. Bruce responded to this news by stating that he would not return to Nigeria because he had just been deported from there and he feared for his safety if he were compelled to return. At that point, Bruce was requested to provide a written statement. As a result, Defendant signed a document titled, "Record of Sworn Statement in Affidavit Form." (Gov.'s Ex. 1.)

In this document, Bruce acknowledged that his statement concerned his "admissibility into the United States/transit without a visa." The statement included the following:

Q: What is your true and correct name, country of citizenship and date of birth?

A: FLOYD MURRAY BRUCE, Bermuda, 28-October, 1963.

Q: What authority issued you the Emergency Certificate which you presented for inspection to the U.S. Immigration Inspectors at JFK Airport in N.Y. City?

A: Federal Government of Nigeria at Nigerian Immigration HQ in the City of Ogja.

Q: Why was the Emergency Certificate issued to you by the Nigerian authorities?

A: I had no document to travel on.

Q: What happened to your travel documents.

A: Nigerian Immigration withdrew my British passport.

Q: Why was your British passport withdrawn by Nigerian Immigration?

A: Because I was not the genuine holder of the document and the document ...


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