Lawyers for the late John Demjanjuk, the Ukrainian-born convicted Nazi war criminal, have petitioned the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati to restore his citizenship. As we reported in this Immigration Visa Lawyer Blog, an Ohio immigration judge declined to restore Demjanjuk’s citizenship in late 2011 after a German court convicted him as accessory to the murders of 27,900 Jews at three prison camps in Poland and Germany during World War II. The 91 year-old Demjanjuk died on March 17, 2012 in a nursing home in Germany, where he was awaiting the appeal of his conviction. His lawyers now argue that the government withheld documents that would have helped his immigration case.
The brief, filed on behalf of Demjanjuk’s estate on April 12, appeals the December 2011 refusal to reinstate his citizenship by denying a Rule 60 motion. Rule 60 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a court to correct or vacate a prior order based, among other grounds, on newly-discovered evidence that was not previously available. Demjanjuk’s lawyers allege that the government violated its discovery obligations and committed fraud on the court by failing to reveal relevant documents, pursuant both to Demjanjuk’s discovery requests and prior court sanctions. This deprived Demjanjuk’s lawyers of materials needed to mount his defense. Documents from the mid-1980’s, declassified by the FBI in 2010 or 2011, reportedly described some of the critical evidence used against Demjanjuk as likely forgeries of the KGB. Demjanjuk’s lawyers claim to have found hundreds of recently-declassified files containing material, exculpatory documents.