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Brinklys v. Duke

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Jacksonville Division

August 16, 2017

SIGITAS BRINKLYS & AURELIJA CARUSO, Plaintiffs,
v.
ELAINE C. DUKE, Secretary, Department of Homeland Security, et al., [1] Defendants.

          ORDER

          MARCIA MORALES HOWARD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         THIS CAUSE is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion to Vacate Judgment (Doc. 33; “Motion”), filed on February 24, 2017. Defendants filed a response on May 9, 2017. See Defendants' Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion to Vacate Judgment (Doc. 40; “Response”). The Court notes that Plaintiffs filed a motion for leave to file a reply on August 4, 2017-almost three full months after the Government filed the Response. See Plaintiff's Verified Motion for Leave to File a Reply to Government's Response to Motion to Vacate and Incorporated Request to Submit a Reply Brief of No More than Six (6) Pages [sic] (Doc. 42; “Motion for Leave”). Defendants oppose the request. See Defendants' Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to File a Reply Brief (Doc. 43). By the time Plaintiffs filed the Motion for Leave, the Court had already invested substantial time reviewing the Motion and the Response, had determined its ruling on the Motion, and was working on revising the instant order. Having reviewed the Motion for Leave, the Court concludes that Plaintiffs have failed to show good cause for their untimely filing.[2]More importantly, the Court's review of the Motion for Leave discloses that the arguments Plaintiffs seek to present would neither be of assistance in resolving the Motion, nor alter the Court's decision. As such, the Motion for Leave is due to be denied.

         I. Background

         The complete facts of the case are set forth in the Court's Order granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants, (Doc. 28; “Summary Judgment Order”), as well as the Eleventh Circuit's decision affirming the entry of Summary Judgment, see Brinklys v. Sec'y, Dep't of Homeland Sec., __ F. App'x __, No. 16-13215, 2017 WL 3016687 (11th Cir. Jul. 17, 2017) (Doc. 41; “Eleventh Circuit Opinion”). Thus the Court will not repeat the facts in detail here. Instead the Court includes only those necessary for an understanding of the issues raised in the Motion.[3]

         Plaintiff Aurelija Caruso[4] and Raimondas Kalinauskas, both natives and citizens of Lithuania, entered the United States on February 10, 2000. Aurelija married United States citizen Frank Caruso on February 21, 2003, and Kalinauskas married United States citizen Luzmaria Martinez on April 22, 2003. On May 19, 2003, Caruso filed form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative (“I-130 Petition”), on Aurelija's behalf. That same day, Martinez filed an I-130 Petition on Kalinauskas's behalf.

         On August 22, 2007, before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”) decided Caruso's I-130 Petition, Aurelija and Caruso divorced, automatically terminating the petition. A little more than two months later, on November 2, 2007, Aurelija married Plaintiff Sigitas Brinklys. Brinklys filed an I-130 Petition on Aurelija's behalf on February 21, 2008, and Aurelija filed form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (“I-485 Application”), that same day.

         On May 23, 2011, USCIS issued a Notice of Intent to Deny Alien Relative Visa Petition (“NOID”) indicating that it intended to deny Brinklys's I-130 Petition. The NOID identified information that caused USCIS to “doubt the actual intentions of the marriages used for applying for immigration benefits.” USCIS relied heavily on a July 10, 2006, memorandum detailing an investigation of Aurelija and Caruso's marriage by a special agent for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“USCIS Memorandum”). Tr. 881-84.

         As pertaining to the instant Motion, in the NOID, USCIS described Aurelija and Kalinauskas's history of joint property ownership as well as information regarding Caruso's lease of an apartment on Bluff Street in Carol Stream, Illinois, a September 15, 2005 DUI arrest, [5] and an interview with Caruso's mother who denied her son was married. The NOID also discussed a police report from February 24, 2005, describing Illinois state law enforcement's interactions with Aurelija and Kalinauskas during a criminal investigation at a residence on Isle Royal Circle in Plainfield, Illinois. Officers interviewed and arrested Kalinauskas. They reported that, during the interview, Kalinauskas identified Aurelija as his girlfriend. The officers also interviewed Aurelija, who reportedly stated that she and Kalinauskas were “good friends”; that she had lived at that address with Kalinauskas since December 2003; that she was married to Caruso but did not live with him because he and Kalinauskas did not get along; that she had known Kalinauskas for about eight years; that they had been in the United States for four to five years; that she did “not contribute any money to anything regarding the household”; that Kalinauskas paid the mortgage, household bills, and payments on three vehicles at the residence; and that she and Kalinauskas were trying to become U.S. citizens.

         USCIS also described Aurelija and Caruso's interview on Caruso's I-130 Petition at the Chicago USCIS office on September 13, 2005. At the interview both presented Illinois state identification bearing the address of the Isle Royal Circle property, identified that address as their shared residence, and claimed to have lived there together since December 2003. Tr. 2. Caruso's identification card had been issued three days earlier, on September 10, 2005. According to the NOID after being confronted with the allegation of marriage fraud “their accompanying attorney advised them not to answer any other questions. They left the interview.” Id.

         On June 16, 2011, Brinklys responded to the NOID. Tr. 402. In addition to providing various documents, Brinklys explained that Caruso had obtained the identification listing the Isle Royal Circle address three days before the USCIS interview because his driver's license had been suspended for speeding, and he was informed that he needed current identification for the interview. Tr. 405. He argued that, contrary to the assertion in the NOID, Aurelija was not interviewed separately on September 13, 2005, that no one ever informed her and Caruso of a suspicion that the marriage to Caruso was fraudulent, and that only Caruso was interviewed because investigators wanted to determine whether he was involved with Kalinauskas's criminal activity. Tr. 405, 409. With regard to the February 24, 2005 Illinois state law enforcement investigation, Brinklys stated that it was “irrelevant and immaterial to the bona fides of the marriage between Caruso and Aurelija, ” and disputed the description of Kalinauskas and Aurelija's statements. Tr. 407-08. Brinklys contended that Kalinauskas had actually told law enforcement that Aurelija was his “female friend.” Tr. 408. He confirmed that Kalinauskas and Caruso did not get along because of Caruso's drinking and gambling problems and that the men had only met once. Id. He stated that Aurelija denied telling the police that she had only known Kalinauskas for eight years, claimed she misunderstood the question, and asserted that she had also told officers that Kalinauskas was her brother. Tr. 408, 413. He confirmed that Kalinauskas paid the mortgage and bills at the Isle Royal Circle residence but contended that Aurelija paid for groceries and transportation costs. Tr. 408. He asserted that Aurelija and Caruso had been trying to save money at the time. Id. Brinklys also confirmed that Kalinauskas paid for a Ford, a Dodge Ram, and a Mercedes found at the Isle Royal Circle residence on the date of the investigation but that Aurelija and Caruso also owned a 2005 Chrysler 300, a 1997 Ford Crown Victoria, and a 1995 Mercedes. Tr. 409.

         Notably, Brinklys did not dispute the description of the property records set forth in the NOID. Instead, he explained that Aurelija and Kalinauskas bought the Isle Royal Circle residence together because Caruso could not qualify for financing, as he had recently received a bankruptcy discharge. Tr. 407, 411, 569-71. He stated that Aurelija had “no knowledge” that she and Kalinauskas were listed on property records as “husband and wife, ” and that she never told anyone she was married to Kalinauskas. Tr. 412. Brinklys also asserted that the fact that the I-130 Petitions were filed on behalf of Kalinauskas and Aurelija on the same day was “just a coincidence” and also “irrelevant and immaterial.” Tr. 409.

         In his response to the NOID and later in his appellate brief to the Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”), Brinklys also provided several different explanations for Mrs. Caruso's statements to the ICE agent, as well as explanations for Caruso's December 2004 lease of the Bluff Street apartment without Aurelija as well as his statements on the lease application.

         On November 7, 2011, USCIS issued a decision denying Brinklys's I-130 Petition based on its findings that (1) Aurelija had previously entered into a marriage with Caruso for the sole purpose of evading immigration laws, and (2) Brinklys had failed to provide sufficient evidence to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that his marriage to Aurelija was bona fide. Tr. 10-17 (“USCIS Decision”). The bulk of USCIS's discussion was taken from its NOID, but USCIS also explained its rejection of the additional arguments and evidence Brinklys had submitted.

         With respect to the explanation regarding Caruso's recently obtained identification, the USCIS Decision noted that Brinklys failed to provide any evidence “of when and if the license [Caruso] had prior to this new one was ever actually suspended.” Tr. 15. Similarly, it noted that there was no objective evidence supporting the explanation for Caruso's December 2004 lease of the Bluff Street apartment, and that the explanations offered were “vague and inconsistent.” Id. The USCIS Decision continued to rely on the statements made by Kalinauskas and Aurelija to Illinois state law enforcement on February 24, 2005, and rejected the assertion that it was a mere coincidence that Aurelija's and Kalinauskas's applications for adjustment of status were filed on the same day and prepared by the same person. Id.

         Brinklys appealed the USCIS Decision to the BIA on January 5, 2012. Tr. 100- 24. He provided an affidavit from Aurelija as well as a significant amount of new evidence. See Tr. 118-19, 121 (listing documents submitted for the first time with appellate brief “as the result of new allegations raised for the first time in the denial notice”). In his brief to the BIA, Brinklys argued that Caruso had presented an Illinois state identification card because his license “was suspended, ” and disputed that either Caruso or Aurelija were ever told that the validity of their marriage was in doubt. Tr. 107. Again, Brinklys disputed the description of Aurelija and Kalinauskas's February 24, 2005 interaction with Illinois state law enforcement, and provided an affidavit by Aurelija explaining her recollection of the events. Id. 107-110. Again, Brinklys did not dispute the accuracy of property records, but only noted that USCIS had not produced them. Tr. 112-13.

         On September 26, 2013, Brinklys filed a reply brief with the BIA, Tr. 28, in which, amongst other arguments, he disputed the statements attributed to Kalinauskas and Aurelija during the February 24, 2005 interaction with law enforcement and again complained that the police report had never been given to him or Aurelija despite their having requested it at the time of their marriage interview. Tr. 29-30. Indeed he asserted that without the document he and Aurelija could not respond to the statements reported to have been made. Tr. 30-31. He also complained that the USCIS Memorandum and property records had not been produced to them. Id.

         On August 26, 2014, the BIA affirmed the USCIS Decision. Tr. 24-27. In doing so, it highlighted some of the USCIS findings relating to its discussion of Aurelija's marriage to Caruso. Specifically, the BIA focused on (1) the fact that Caruso had obtained his identification showing the Isle Royal Circle address three days before the USCIS interview; (2) Aurelija's and Kalinauskas's statements to law enforcement on February 24, 2005; (3) the property records relating to the Isle Royal Circle and Arapahoe Court properties; (4) Mrs. Caruso's statements during the interview with ICE agents; and (5) the evidence relating to Caruso's Bluff Street apartment lease. Tr. 25-26. Notably the BIA recognized that USCIS had referred to Caruso's identification as a driver's license incorrectly. The BIA also noted that, while in the NOID and the USCIS Decision USCIS mistakenly stated that Caruso had been arrested for DUI on September 15, 2005, the police records showed that the arrest had actually occurred on February 13, 2005.[6] Tr. 26. The BIA specifically concluded that the error was harmless. Tr. 26 n.4.

         The BIA specifically rejected several of Brinklys's contentions. First, it rejected his assertion that the February 24, 2005, police report was unreliable because it recorded that Aurelija had stated both that she had known Kalinauskas since childhood and that they had been close friends for about eight years. Tr. 25. The BIA did not find those statements contradictory. Id. Further, it rejected Brinklys's assertion that Aurelija's poor English skills caused her to misspeak to law enforcement because there was no documentation of any such limitations in communication, either in the police report or through other evidence. Id. The BIA also rejected Brinklys's complaint that he was not provided with copies of police reports, the USCIS Memorandum on the marriage-fraud investigation, or property records. Tr. 26. It observed that 8 C.F.R. § 103.2(b)(16)(i) required USCIS to advise Brinklys of the derogatory information but did not require it to provide actual documents. Tr. 26-27.

         On October 6, 2014, Plaintiffs commenced the instant action by filing a complaint, see Complaint for Issuance of Writ of Mandamus (Doc. 1; “Complaint”), in which they sought a writ of mandamus compelling Defendants to properly adjudicate Sigitas Brinklys's I-130 Petition and Aurelija Caruso's I-485 Application (collectively, “the Petition”) to enable Aurelija to reside lawfully in the United States, or alternatively, to review the decision of the BIA under the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 702, 706. Id. ¶¶ 12, 37. Defendants filed the Certified Administrative Record (“CAR”) on the Court's public docket on April 3, 2015 (Doc. 16). After Plaintiffs sought and obtained an extension of the dispositive motion deadline, see Docs. 19 and 20, the parties filed cross motions for summary judgment on May 11, 2015. See Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 21) and Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment and Supporting Memorandum of Law (Doc. 22). Again, after Plaintiffs sought and obtained an extension of time to respond, see Docs. 24 and 25, on June 25, 2015, the parties filed responses to the pending summary judgment motions, see Defendants' Opposition to Plaintiffs' Cross Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 26) and Plaintiffs' Response to Cross Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 27). On March 30, 2016, the Court entered an order granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants, see Summary Judgment Order, and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that decision on July 17, 2017, see Eleventh Circuit Opinion.

         In the Motion, Plaintiffs contend that the Summary Judgment Order should be vacated under Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“Rule(s)”). Plaintiffs' position is that they have discovered new evidence, as well as evidence Defendants wrongfully withheld from the CAR, that would have changed the Court's ruling in the Summary Judgment Order. See generally Motion. The new evidence consists of:

(1) A report from the Elgin Police Department dated January 19, 2005 relating to the investigation of Frank Caruso and Raimondas Kalinauskas for auto-part theft. See Aurelija Aff., Ex. 32: January 19, 2005 Elgin Police Department (“Investigation Report”);
(2) A report from the Elgin Police Department dated February 24, 2005 relating to Kalinauskas's arrest for auto-part theft. Id., Ex. 33: February 24, 2005 Elgin Police Department ...

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