United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
For Patrice Ebai Talbot, Defendant: Lori J. Ulrich, LEAD ATTORNEY, Federal Public Defender's Office, Harrisburg, PA.
For USA, Plaintiff: Brian G. McDonnell, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. Attorney's Office, Harrisburg, PA.
Yvette Kane, United States District Judge.
On October 9, 2013, Defendant Patrice Ebai Talbot was indicted by the Grand Jury for conniving, conspiring, or taking any other action designed to prevent and hamper or with the purpose of preventing and hampering his departure from the United States, in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1253(a)(1)(C). (Doc. No. 1.) Defendant entered a plea of not guilty on November 1, 2013. (Doc. No. 10.) Defendant filed a pre-trial motion challenging the validity of his removal order on January 15, 2014. (Doc. No. 18.) On March 20, 2014, the Court denied Petitioner's motion challenging his removal order. (Doc. No. 26.) Petitioner's trial was then set for May 12, 2014. (Doc. No. 28.)
Following a colloquy with the Court on May 12, 2014, Defendant entered a knowing, voluntary, and intelligent waiver of his right to a trial by jury and elected to proceed with a bench trial. Trial commenced following the colloquy. Defendant presented two defenses at trial: (1) that he was not a " deportable alien" per 8 U.S.C. § 1227 because the travel document obtained by Immigration and Customers Enforcement (" ICE" ) officers for his removal was invalid (see Doc. No. 40); and alternatively, (2) Defendant was justified in refusing to deport based on the affirmative defense of justification (see Doc. No. 37). Now, upon consideration of all the evidence, the Court concludes that the United States has established Defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and finds Defendant
guilty of violating 8 U.S.C. § 1253(a)(1)(C).
To establish a violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1253(a)(1)(C), the United States must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that: (1) a final order of removal was outstanding against Defendant; (2) Defendant was a deportable alien as defined by 8 U.S.C. § 1227(a); and (3) Defendant connived or conspired, or took any other action, designed to prevent or hamper or with the purpose of preventing or hampering his departure. 8 U.S.C. § 1253(a)(1)(C). The third element contains a specific intent mens rea requirement. Id. A specific-intent crime is " one whose definition requires a special mens rea above and beyond that which is required for the actus reus of the crime." United States v. Starnes, 583 F.3d 196, 209, 52 V.I. 1051 (3d Cir. 2009) (internal citations omitted). That is, the third element requires both that Defendant acted in such a way as to prevent or hamper his departure and that he intended his actions to have that effect.
II. FINDINGS OF FACT
A. Final order of removal
The Court finds that the United States established beyond a reasonable doubt that a final order of removal was in place for Defendant when ICE attempted to deport him to Cameroon on March 7, 2013, May 6, 2013, and August 12, 2013. Defendant initially challenged the validity of his removal order through a pre-trial motion. (See Doc. No. 18.) On March 20, 2014, the Court denied Defendant's motion, thereby upholding the validity of Defendant's removal order. (Doc. Nos. 25, 26.) Defendant did not further attack the validity of the removal order at trial. Additionally, the United States introduced evidence that Immigration Judge Lisa Dornell issued a removal order for Defendant on April 20, 2004, and that the order became final upon review by the Board of Immigration Appeals. 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(47)(B). (See Government Exhibit 3 at 10-11; see also Government Exhibit 6.) ...