Judge Richard D. Walton

FY 2016 - 2021, 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

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Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied

Detailed data on Judge Walton decisions were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2016 through 2021. During this period, Judge Walton is recorded as deciding 654 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, he granted 30, gave no conditional grants, and denied 624. Converted to percentage terms, Walton denied 95.4 percent and granted (including conditional grants) 4.6 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.)

Nationwide Comparisons

Compared to Judge Walton's denial rate of 95.4 percent, nationally during this same period, immigration court judges denied 67.6 percent of asylum claims. In the Houston Immigration Court where Judge Walton was based, judges there denied asylum 92.5 percent of the time. See Figure 2.

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Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)

Judge Walton can also be ranked compared to each of the 558 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 558 - where 1 represented the highest denial percent and 558 represented the lowest - Judge Walton here receives a rank of 58. That is 57 judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 500 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

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, 28.1% were not represented by an attorney. See Figure 3. For the nation as a whole, about 18.3% 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.

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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 47.2 % of his caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Walton were: El Salvador (22.6 %), Guatemala (15.1%), Mexico (9%), Venezuela (2.1%). 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 (18.7%), Guatemala (16.0%), Honduras (15.0%), Mexico (11.8%), China (8.4%), India (3.8%), Cuba (2.7%), Haiti (1.8%), Venezuela (1.6%), Cameroon (1.5%), Nicaragua (1.2%), Nepal (1.2%), Ecuador (1.1%).

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