NOTE: This disposition is nonprecedential. United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit[End Page 2009-3035]
DAVID M. JOYCE,
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY,
David M. Joyce, of Oceanside, California, pro se.
Steven M. Mager, Trial Attorney, Commercial Litigation Branch, Civil Division,
United States Department of Justice, of Washington, DC, for respondent. With him on
the brief were Michael F. Hertz, Acting Assistant Attorney General, Jeanne E. Davidson,
Director, and Kirk T. Manhardt, Assistant Director.
Appealed from: Merit Systems Protection Board
NOTE: This disposition is nonprecedential.
United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
[End Page 2009-3035]
DAVID M. JOYCE,
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY,
Petition for review of the Merit Systems Protection Board in SF-0752-08-0197-I-1.
DECIDED: July 8, 2009
Before MAYER, PROST, and MOORE, Circuit Judges.
David M. Joyce appeals the final decision of the Merit Systems Protection Board
sustaining his removal from his position as a Customs and Border Protection Officer
("CBPO") with the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS"). See Joyce v. Dep't of
Homeland Sec., No. SF-0752-08-0197-I-1 (Sept. 19, 2008). We affirm.
Prior to his removal, Joyce worked as a CBPO at the Los Angeles/Long Beach
Seaport, and his duties included examining cargo to find contraband, quota violations
and marking violations. Joyce served as a uniformed law enforcement officer with
responsibility for preventing terrorists and weapons of mass destruction from entering
the United States. On November 13, 2006, Joyce notified the police department that his
1999 Honda Civic had been stolen. The following day, law enforcement recovered the
vehicle, which had been parked on a street in Vista, California. Abelina Perez was
arrested at the scene and charged with theft of Joyce's vehicle.
Joyce contacted the San Diego district attorney's office nine days later and
attempted to have the charges against Perez dropped. Joyce stated that he had given
a set of keys to his car to a friend, Dan Perez, but that he did not know Abelina Perez
and "had just found out" that she was Dan Perez's daughter.
Subsequently, however, the district attorney's office determined that Joyce had
lied when he stated that he did not know Abelina Perez. Joyce later met with officials
from the district attorney's office and confessed that Perez had "been his mistress" for
the past three years. Soon thereafter, the district attorney's office notified DHS that
Joyce "may have filed a false police report."
On December 10, 2007, DHS removed Joyce from his position. The board
sustained the removal, concluding that the agency had proven by a preponderance of
the evidence that Joyce had made a false statement to the San Diego district attorney's
office when he stated that he did not know Abelina Perez, and that he made this
statement with the intent to mislead authorities about the nature of his relationship with
Perez. Joyce then timely appealed to this court.
This court's review of a board decision is limited by statute. We must affirm such
a decision unless it is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, otherwise not in
accordance with law, obtained without required procedures, or not supported by
2009-3035 2 substantial evidence. 5 U.S.C. § 7703(c); Fields v. Dep't of Justice, 452 F.3d 1297
1301 (Fed. Cir. 2006).
On appeal, Joyce contends that the board's determination that he made a false
statement was arbitrary and capricious. The record, however, is replete with evidence
establishing that Joyce made a false statement when he told the district attorney's office
that he did not know Abelina Perez. The official case report that DHS received from the
San Diego district attorney's office indicates that Joyce specifically stated that he did not
know Perez. Before the board, Deputy District Attorney Roy Lai confirmed the accuracy
of the report. Indeed, in a March 13, 2007, affidavit, Joyce acknowledged that he had
initially told authorities that he did not know Perez.
The board also correctly determined that Joyce made the false statement with an
intent to mislead the district attorney's office. Joyce admitted that he "was embarrassed
about the relationship [with Perez] and . . . did not want [the district attorney's office] to
know about it."
This court will defer to an agency's choice of penalty unless it is "so harsh and
unconscionably disproportionate to the offense that it amounts to an abuse of
discretion." O'Neill v. Dep't of Housing & Urban Dev., 220 F.3d 1354
, 1365 (Fed. Cir.
2000) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). As the board correctly
determined, Joyce's "misconduct was intentional and serious, particularly given [his]
position of trust as a law enforcement officer and the fact that he made the false
statement to other . . . law enforcement officials." His misconduct caused the agency to
lose confidence in his ability to perform his duties in a responsible and trustworthy
manner. Under such circumstances, the board did not err in sustaining the agency's
decision to remove Joyce from his position.