The Immorality of Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude: Evaluating the Eighth Circuit’s Split in Bakor v. Barr
Alex failed to register his car, Pilar failed to renew his broker license, Juan failed to register as a sex offender, and all three noncitizens have been convicted of one previous crime. Each of these registration failures flow from dramatically different legal requirements and serve different purposes, but they share a common characteristic. All three legal missteps are based on administrative registration obligations promulgated by a governmental entity. Indeed, the failure to register as a sex offender may accompany more ethical and moral intimations, but the act of failing to register as a sex offender is not itself clearly evil behavior. Failure to register as a sex offender, however, can beget grave consequences for noncitizens in the United States. The most significant difference between Alex, Pilar, and Juan is that Juan, depending on where he lives in the United States, may be subject to removal or deportation. The Eighth Circuit recently deemed the failure to register as a sex offender to be a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT). In doing so, the Eighth Circuit departed from the approach in the Third, Fourth, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits, which holds that the failure to register as a sex offender is not a CIMT. This newly created circuit split effectively holds noncitizens—an exceedingly marginalized population6—to different standards under the federal Immigration and Nationality Act, depending on the noncitizen’s jurisdictional residence. This Note analyzes the Eighth Circuit’s decision, Bakor v. Barr, based on the categorical approach framework used to determine whether a crime involves moral turpitude. Part II describes the removal process for noncitizens who are convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude and the difficulty courts have in defining moral turpitude. Part III examines the Bakor v. Barr decision in light of the Third, Fourth, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits’ approach. Finally, Part IV argues that the Eighth Circuit should have followed the Third, Fourth, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits to conclude that failure to register as a sex offender is not a crime involving moral turpitude. Moreover, to promote predictability and consistency in removal cases arising from CIMTs the court should categorically proclaim that failure to register as a sex offender is not a CIMT.
The Immorality of Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude: Evaluating the Eighth Circuit’s Split in Bakor v. Barr,
100 Neb. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol100/iss4/9