Judge Philip J. Montante, Jr

FY 2015 - 2020, Orlando Immigration Court

Judge Montante was appointed as an Immigration Judge in April 1990. Prior to his transfer to Buffalo in August 1997, he served as Immigration Judge in Miami. He received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Drake College, a Masters in Education degree from Florida Atlantic (State) University, and a Juris Doctorate from Samford University. From 1975 to 1990, he was in private practice and also served as either city attorney or special counsel to 10 cities in Southern Florida. From 1975 to 1976, he served as a special assistant attorney general and in 1976, he was appointed as a chief municipal court judge in Broward County, Florida. From 1971 to 1975, he worked as chief assistant state attorney in Florida. From 1976 to 1996, he was an adjunct professor of Florida Atlantic (State) University. Judge Montante was certified by the Chief Justice of Florida Supreme Court as a circuit court mediator in 1989. He was commissioned by the Governor of the State of Florida as a member of the Judicial Nominating Commission and served as its chairman for three years. He also served three terms on the President's Commission on White House Fellowship's regional panels (Washington, DC; Atlanta, Georgia; and Miami, Florida). Judge Montante is a member of the Florida, District of Columbia, and New York Bars.

Deciding Asylum Cases

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Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied

Detailed data on Judge Montante decisions were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2015 through 2020. During this period, Judge Montante is recorded as deciding 108 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, he granted 4, gave no conditional grants, and denied 104. Converted to percentage terms, Montante denied 96.3 percent and granted (including conditional grants) 3.7 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Montante's denial rate fiscal year-by-year over this recent period. (Rates for years with less than 25 decisions are not shown.)

Nationwide Comparisons

Compared to Judge Montante's denial rate of 96.3 percent, nationally during this same period, immigration court judges denied 66.7 percent of asylum claims. In the Orlando Immigration Court where Judge Montante was based, judges there denied asylum 84 percent of the time. See Figure 2.

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Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)

Judge Montante can also be ranked compared to each of the 526 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 526 - where 1 represented the highest denial percent and 526 represented the lowest - Judge Montante here receives a rank of 32. That is 31 judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 494 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.

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Figure 3: Asylum Seeker Had Representation
Representation

If an asylum seeker is not represented by an attorney, almost all (88%) of them are denied asylum. In contrast, a significantly higher proportion of represented asylum seekers are successful. In the case of Judge Montante, 37% were not represented by an attorney. See Figure 3. For the nation as a whole, about 19% of asylum seekers are not represented.

Nationality

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.

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Figure 4: Asylum Decisions by Nationality

For Judge Montante, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before him came from Haiti. Individuals from this nation made up 24.1 % of his caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Montante were: Honduras (16.7 %), Mexico (12%), El Salvador (7.4%), Jamaica (7.4%). See Figure 4.

In the nation as a whole during this same period, major nationalities of asylum seekers, in descending order of frequency, were El Salvador (18.1%), Guatemala (15.1%), Honduras (14.7%), Mexico (11.8%), China (10.2%), India (3.7%), Cuba (2.5%), Haiti (1.8%), Cameroon (1.5%), Venezuela (1.3%), Nepal (1.3%), Nicaragua (1.1%), Bangladesh (1.0%).

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