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Lakhwinder Latter-Singh v. Holder

The Ninth Circuit held that a conviction for California Penal Code § 422 categorically is a crime involving moral turpitude. It reached this conclusion because (1) the conviction requires threats of death or great bodily injury, and actual intentional infliction of death or GBI would involve moral turpitude; (2) the statute also requires the threat to be of a nature that reasonably places the victim in sustained fear; and (3) a § 422 conviction requires the specific intent by the perpetrator that the victim take the statement as a threat, and the court deferred to the Board's judgment that this mens rea is a significant factor.

The outcome in this case is not surprising, but I note that the Ninth Circuit did not cite former Attorney General Mukasey's precedential definition of a crime involving moral turpitude in Matter of Silva-Trevino as a "reprehensible act" accompanied by a scienter of at least recklessness. Instead, like other recent Ninth Circuit cases, it defines crimes involving moral turpitude with reference to older definitions (here, the redundant “(1) is vile, base, or depraved and (2) violates accepted moral standards”). It seems everybody recognizes Silva-Trevino deserves no respect...

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