Judge Barry J. Pettinato
FY 2012 - 2017, Charlotte Immigration Court
Judge Pettinato was appointed as an immigration judge in November 2009. He
received a bachelor of science degree in 1978 from Fitchburg State College and a
juris doctorate in 1991from Suffolk University Law School. From 2001 to November
2009, Judge Pettinato served in the Office of Immigration Litigation at the
Department of Justice as a trial attorney, senior litigation counsel and
assistant director. From 1991 to 2001, he worked as an assistant district
counsel and trial attorney for the former Immigration and Naturalization Service
(INS) in San Francisco. Judge Pettinato is a member of the Bar of the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Deciding Asylum Cases
Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied
Detailed data on Judge Pettinato decisions were examined for the period covering
fiscal years 2012 through 2017. During this period, Judge
Pettinato is recorded as deciding 597 asylum claims on their merits. Of these,
he granted 104, gave no conditional grants, and denied 493.
Converted to percentage terms, Pettinato denied 82.6 percent and granted (including
conditional grants) 17.4 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Pettinato's
denial rate fiscal year-by-year over this recent period.
Compared to Judge Pettinato's denial rate of 82.6 percent, nationally
during this same period, immigration court judges denied 52.8 percent
of asylum claims. In the Charlotte Immigration Court where Judge Pettinato
was based, judges there denied asylum 82.2 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)
Judge Pettinato 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 Pettinato here receives a rank of 84. That is 83
judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 209 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 Pettinato, 20.3% 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 Pettinato, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before him came
from Honduras. Individuals from this nation made up 24.6 % of his caseload.
Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Pettinato were:
El Salvador (18.1 %), Mexico (14.6%), Guatemala (12.7%), China (4.4%).
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%).