Judge Samuel B. Cole
FY 2015 - 2020, Chicago Immigration Court
Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch appointed Samuel B. Cole to begin hearing cases in August 2016. Judge Cole earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1995 from Rice University and a Juris Doctor in 1998 from the Harvard Law School. From 2003 to July 2016, he served as an assistant U.S. attorney, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Department of Justice, in Chicago. From 1999 through 2003, he served as an associate attorney for McDermott, Will & Emery, in Chicago. Judge Cole is a member of the Illinois State Bar.
Deciding Asylum Cases
Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied
Detailed data on Judge Cole decisions were examined for the period covering
fiscal years 2015 through 2020. During this period, Judge
Cole is recorded as deciding 438 asylum claims on their merits. Of these,
he granted 259, gave no conditional grants, and denied 179.
Converted to percentage terms, Cole denied 40.9 percent and granted (including
conditional grants) 59.1 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Cole'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 Cole's denial rate of 40.9 percent, nationally
during this same period, immigration court judges denied 66.7 percent
of asylum claims. In the Chicago Immigration Court where Judge Cole
was based, judges there denied asylum 53.3 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)
Judge Cole 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 Cole here receives a rank of 447. That is 446
judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 79 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 Cole, 54.8% 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 Cole, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before him came
from Cuba. Individuals from this nation made up 35.2 % of his caseload.
Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Cole were:
Mexico (11.6 %), Honduras (6.8%), Guatemala (5%), Venezuela (4.3%).
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%).