Judge Agnelis L. Reese
FY 2015 - 2020, Oakdale Immigration Court
Judge Reese was appointed as an Immigration Judge in April 1997. She received a Bachelor of
Arts degree in 1977 from Louisiana Tech University, and a Juris Doctorate from Southern
University Law Center in 1989. From 1989 to 1997, Judge Reese served as assistant district
counsel, for the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, in New Orleans, Louisiana. She
is a member of the Louisiana Bar.
Deciding Asylum Cases
Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied
Detailed data on Judge Reese decisions were examined for the period covering
fiscal years 2015 through 2020. During this period, Judge
Reese is recorded as deciding 193 asylum claims on their merits. Of these,
she granted 1, gave no conditional grants, and denied 192.
Converted to percentage terms, Reese denied 99.5 percent and granted (including
conditional grants) 0.5 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Reese'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 Reese's denial rate of 99.5 percent, nationally
during this same period, immigration court judges denied 66.7 percent
of asylum claims. In the Oakdale Immigration Court where Judge Reese
was based, judges there denied asylum 86.4 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)
Judge Reese 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 Reese here receives a rank of 2. That is 1
judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 524 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 Reese, 51.3% 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 Reese, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before her came
from Cuba. Individuals from this nation made up 16.1 % of her caseload.
Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Reese were:
Honduras (14.5 %), Somalia (10.9%), El Salvador (8.8%), Eritrea (6.7%).
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%).