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
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.)
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.
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.
Figure 3: Asylum Seeker Had 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.
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 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%).