Judge Leonard I. Shapiro
FY 2009 - 2014, Boston Immigration Court
Judge Shapiro was appointed as an Immigration Judge in December 1990. He received a
Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Massachusetts in 1957, and a Juris Doctorate in
1961 from Boston University School of Law. From 1972 to 1990, he was a senior partner with
Shapiro & Glassman in Boston. From 1961 to 1972, he was an attorney with the Law Offices
of Robert G. Wolf, also in Boston. Judge Shapiro served in the U.S. Army from 1957 to 1958.
He was chapter president of the New England Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers
Association from 1986 to 1988, and coauthor of the 1988 Edition of The American Immigration
Lawyers Association Textbook, and the 1995 Edition of The Immigration Judge Benchbook.
Judge Shapiro was also the chairman of the Immigration Law Section of the Massachusetts Bar
Association in 1990 prior to his appointment, and continues to be a member of that association.
Judge Shapiro is a member of the Massachusetts Bar.
Deciding Asylum Cases
Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied
Detailed data on Judge Shapiro decisions were examined for the period covering
fiscal years 2009 through the first nine months of 2014. During this period, Judge
Shapiro is recorded as deciding 358 asylum claims on their merits. Of these,
he granted 175, gave no conditional grants, and denied 183.
Converted to percentage terms, Shapiro denied 51.1 percent and granted (including
conditional grants) 48.9 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Shapiro's
denial rate fiscal year-by-year over this recent period.
Compared to Judge Shapiro's denial rate of 51.1 percent, nationally
during this same period, immigration court judges denied 48.5 percent
of asylum claims. In the Boston Immigration Court where Judge Shapiro
was based, judges there denied asylum 49.1 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)
Judge Shapiro can also be ranked compared to each of the 270 individual immigration judges
serving during this period who rendered at least one hundred decisions in a city's immigration court. If judges were ranked
from 1 to 270 - where 1 represented the highest denial percent and 270
represented the lowest - Judge Shapiro here receives a rank of 173. That is 172
judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 97 denied asylum at the same
rate or less often. Ranks are tallied separately for each immigration court. Should a judge serve on more than one court
during this period, separate ranks would be assigned in any court that the judge rendered at least 100 asylum decisions in.
Why Do Denial Rates Vary Among Judges?
Denial rates reflect in part the differing composition of cases assigned to
different immigration judges. For example, being represented in court and the nationality
of the asylum seeker appear to often impact decision outcome. Decisions also appear to
reflect in part the personal perspective that the judge brings to the bench.
Figure 3: Asylum Seeker Had Representation
If an asylum seeker is not represented by an
attorney, almost all (89%) of them are denied asylum. In contrast, a
significantly higher proportion of represented asylum seekers are successful.
In the case of Judge Shapiro, 11.5% were not
represented by an attorney. See Figure 3. For the nation as a whole,
about 14.6% of asylum seekers are not represented.
Asylum seekers are a
diverse group. Over one hundred different nationalities had at least one hundred
individuals claiming asylum decided during this period. As might be expected,
immigration courts located in different parts of the country tend to have
proportionately larger shares from some countries than from others. And, given
the required legal grounds for a successful asylum claim, asylum seekers
from some nations tend to be more successful than others.
Figure 4: Asylum Decisions by Nationality
For Judge Shapiro, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before him came
from Guatemala. Individuals from this nation made up 16.8 % of his caseload.
Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Shapiro were:
China (13.4 %), Indonesia (9.2%), El Salvador (8.4%), Colombia (3.6%).
See Figure 4.
In the nation as a whole during this same period, major nationalities of asylum
seekers, in descending order of frequency, were China (28.5%), El Salvador (6.8%), Mexico (5.9%), Guatemala (5.7%), Haiti (3.1%), Honduras (2.9%), India (2.7%), Ethiopia (2.5%), Colombia (2.2%), Nepal (2.1%), Indonesia (1.5%), Eritrea (1.5%), Venezuela (1.5%).