Thursday, August 16, 2012

Any Dirty Trick

A while back, I wrote the story of "Three Identical People"; later followed up by "The One-Two-Three of Deporting United States Citizens". The latter discussed methods of getting citizens to sign papers stating they were non-citizens, so as to justify their deportation.

Now we have Briseira Torres, held in jail by the Maricopa County Attorney's Office (MCAO) in case using yet another variation of this trick.

Their approach in this case was to get the woman confused over her past history, which is a little twisted. That part isn't really clear, but Ms. Torres was born in the U. S., which is clear. When her mother moved her to Mexico, she was apparently registered there under another name, "Brenda Gomez", which apparently related to what her father called her and his name.

Having gotten Ms. Torres confused, MCAO got her to sign a paper that she had been "Mirandized" under the name "Brenda Gomez".

Note that they had her birth certificate. They had her driver's license. Yet still she was held. Let us be clear about their trick, which was in two parts:

  1. Even though MCAO had her driver's license and birth certificate, MCAO apparently told her something along the lines of, "For legal reasons, we need to mirandize you as Brenda Gomez."
  2. Having done that, MCAO then got her to sign a paper stating that she was mirandized as "Brenda Gomez". (It's not clear what signature she used and doesn't really matter; it's the content of the document that matters. Clever, huh?)

Ask yourself this: Would you have signed that paper under those circumstances? Right.

So she did. Note that she never said her name was Brenda Gomez. She signed a paper stating that she was mirandized as Brenda Gomez. Seems an important distinction, right? MCAO didn't think so.

The MCAO then used that signed document document as evidence that her birth certificate was forged, and that she was not a citizen. This despite the fact that they could easily have verified her certificate (they never bothered with that).

Worse, Detective Chris Oberly of the Arizona Department of Transportation's Office of the Inspector General testified before the grand jury that the birth certificate was false and that Vital Records had "cancelled it". This was untrue, as established later by affidavit.

(To me, it seems probable that this was perjury. Because, either Detective Oberly spoke to Vital Records or not. If he spoke to them, it seems likely he lied about what he learned; if he didn't speak to them, then it is likely that he lied about speaking to them.)

Ms. Torres sat in jail for 4 months, her life on hold, waiting for a hearing. At which time the case was remanded back to the grand jury because the defense had an affidavit from Arizona Office of Vital Records, verifying the authenticity of the certificate.

Information that should have been presented to the grand jury the first time. (But why do that when that would likely cause them to fail to return a true bill?)

So it's actually not over yet.

Basically, there are two lessons from this, the first of which is: Never sign anything stating you have a name that is not yours.

Second, brace yourself for a ride, if you look even remotely Hispanic and have to go near ICE or MCAO. Because they will use any dirty trick they can find to throw you out of the country or lock you up.

Whether you are a citizen or not.

Update 17-Aug-2013 (based on this article in Phoenix NewTimes)

Shortly after the dismissal and Ms. Torres' release, on August 9, 2012, the Arizona Office of Vital Records (OVR) chief Patricia Adams informed her in a letter (August 15, 2012) that it had "cancelled and sealed" her birth certificate in 1999 and had documents to prove it.

First of all, this letter is contradicted by two facts: OVR had issued her a copy of the certificate in February 2011...what about the seal? Second, OVR employee Robin Glover had sworn (August 2012) that she was turning everything over to Torres' lawyer, but those documents contained no "cancellation". (That's why Ms. Torres' case was remanded back to the grand jury.)

After pressure by her attorney, OVR finally admitted (again) that it had not cancelled her certificate. Now, it merely wanted to cancel her certificate.

After a hearing in October, 2012, the Attorney General of Arizona and the OVR representative, Glover, refused to respond to questions about the situation. Apparently, Ms. Torres' birth certificate remains uncancelled.

The parties had agreed to a hearing to be held in March, 2013, but I can't find anything on the results of this hearing.

But look at the timing here: From the beginning of April, 2012 to March, 2013: A year in legal limbo.

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