Judge Noel A. Brennan
FY 2012 - 2017, New York Immigration Court
Judge Brennan was appointed as an Immigration Judge in August 2003. Prior to this
appointment, she served on the Board of Immigration Appeals in Falls Church, Virginia, since
July 2000. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Marywood College in 1969, a Master
of Arts degree from George Washington University in 1972, and a Juris Doctorate from
Georgetown University Law Center in 1985 where she has been an adjunct professor of law since
1991. Prior to her appointment, since June 1994, Judge Brennan served in the Department of
Justice as the deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Justice Programs where she was
the chief architect of former Attorney General Janet Reno's community justice agenda. From
1987 to 1994, she worked as an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. She served
as a law clerk in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia from 1986 to 1987, and on
the Superior Court for the District of Columbia from 1985 to 1986. Judge Brennan was a
principal in setting up the DC Mediation Service, the first mediation service in the District of
Columbia. Throughout her career, she has been active in pro bono and legal services efforts in
the DC community. Judge Brennan is a member of the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, and
New York Bars and currently serves on the Board of Governors for the DC Bar.
Deciding Asylum Cases
Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied
Detailed data on Judge Brennan decisions were examined for the period covering
fiscal years 2012 through 2017. During this period, Judge
Brennan is recorded as deciding 2182 asylum claims on their merits. Of these,
she granted 2079, gave no conditional grants, and denied 103.
Converted to percentage terms, Brennan denied 4.7 percent and granted (including
conditional grants) 95.3 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Brennan's
denial rate fiscal year-by-year over this recent period.
Compared to Judge Brennan's denial rate of 4.7 percent, nationally
during this same period, immigration court judges denied 52.8 percent
of asylum claims. In the New York Immigration Court where Judge Brennan
was based, judges there denied asylum 17.3 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)
Judge Brennan can also be ranked compared to each of the 293 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 293 - where 1 represented the highest denial percent and 293
represented the lowest - Judge Brennan here receives a rank of 290. That is 289
judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 3 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 (91%) of them are denied asylum. In contrast, a
significantly higher proportion of represented asylum seekers are successful.
In the case of Judge Brennan, 1.1% were not
represented by an attorney. See Figure 3. For the nation as a whole,
about 20.2% 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 Brennan, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before her came
from China. Individuals from this nation made up 63.7 % of her caseload.
Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Brennan were:
India (4.4 %), Nepal (4.1%), El Salvador (2.7%), Soviet Union (2.2%).
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 (23.4%), El Salvador (11.7%), Mexico (11.0%), Honduras (8.3%), Guatemala (8.2%), India (2.9%), Nepal (2.0%), Haiti (2.0%), Ethiopia (1.7%), Somalia (1.4%), Eritrea (1.4%), Egypt (1.2%), Cameroon (1.0%).