Judge Richard D. Walton
FY 2015 - 2020, Houston Immigration Court
Judge Walton was appointed as an Immigration Judge in April 1995. He received a Bachelor
of Arts degree from Plymouth State College in New Hampshire in 1976, and a Juris Doctorate
from Indiana University in 1979. From 1993 to 1995, Judge Walton was in private practice in
Los Angeles. From 1988 to 1993, he worked as an attorney with the Law Office of Richard
Fraade in Beverly Hills, California. He also worked as an attorney with a private immigration
law firm in Los Angeles, from 1987 to 1988. From 1979 to 1981, Judge Walton was in private
practice in Rhode Island. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of LaVerne in
Woodland Hills, California. Judge Walton is a member of the Rhode Island Bar.
Deciding Asylum Cases
Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied
Detailed data on Judge Walton decisions were examined for the period covering
fiscal years 2015 through 2020. During this period, Judge
Walton is recorded as deciding 731 asylum claims on their merits. Of these,
he granted 29, gave no conditional grants, and denied 702.
Converted to percentage terms, Walton denied 96 percent and granted (including
conditional grants) 4 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Walton'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 Walton's denial rate of 96 percent, nationally
during this same period, immigration court judges denied 66.7 percent
of asylum claims. In the Houston Immigration Court where Judge Walton
was based, judges there denied asylum 92.6 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)
Judge Walton 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 Walton here receives a rank of 38. That is 37
judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 488 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 Walton, 28.6% 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 Walton, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before him came
from Honduras. Individuals from this nation made up 46.1 % of his caseload.
Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Walton were:
El Salvador (26 %), Guatemala (14.8%), Mexico (7.9%), Venezuela (1.9%).
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%).