Judge Lawrence O. Burman
FY 2009 - 2014, Memphis Immigration Court
Judge Burman was appointed as an Immigration Judge in April 1998. Prior to his appointment
at the Immigration Court in Memphis, Judge Burman served as an Immigration Judge at the
Immigration Court in Los Angeles from April 1998 to February 2002. He received a Bachelor
of Arts degree from the University of Virginia in 1971, and a Juris Doctorate from the
University of Maryland in 1978. From 1991 to 1998, Judge Burman worked as an assistant
district counsel for the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in Baltimore,
Maryland. He served as assistant general counsel at INS Headquarters in Washington, DC, from
1990 to 1991. Judge Burman worked as a general attorney for INS in Baltimore, from 1988 to
1990. From 1978 to 1988, he worked as an attorney in private practice in Baltimore. Judge
Burman was in the U.S. Army from 1971 to 1975, and in the Maryland National Guard from
1975 to 1993. He is a member of the Maryland Bar.
Deciding Asylum Cases
Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied
Detailed data on Judge Burman decisions were examined for the period covering
fiscal years 2009 through the first nine months of 2014. During this period, Judge
Burman is recorded as deciding 243 asylum claims on their merits. Of these,
he granted 162, gave no conditional grants, and denied 81.
Converted to percentage terms, Burman denied 33.3 percent and granted (including
conditional grants) 66.7 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Burman's
denial rate fiscal year-by-year over this recent period.
(Rates for years with less than 25 decisions are not shown.)
Compared to Judge Burman's denial rate of 33.3 percent, nationally
during this same period, immigration court judges denied 48.5 percent
of asylum claims. In the Memphis Immigration Court where Judge Burman
was based, judges there denied asylum 48 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)
Judge Burman 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 Burman here receives a rank of 221. That is 220
judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 49 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 Burman, 8.2% 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 Burman, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before him came
from China. Individuals from this nation made up 35.4 % of his caseload.
Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Burman were:
El Salvador (9.5 %), Guatemala (8.6%), Venezuela (8.6%), Zimbabwe (6.2%).
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%).