Judge Joseph La Rocca
FY 2013 - 2018, New Orleans Immigration Court
Attorney General Eric Holder appointed Judge La Rocca to begin hearing cases in June 2015.Judge La Rocca received a bachelor of arts degree in 1998 and a juris doctorate in 2001, bothfrom Louisiana State University. From July 2006 to May 2015, Judge La Rocca served at theU.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security, in variouscapacities including senior attorney and assistant chief counsel, in New Orleans. From 2002 to2006, he was an attorney at David Ware & Associates, in Metairie, La. From 2001 to 2002,Judge La Rocca was an attorney at the Holliday Law Firm, in Baton Rouge, La. Judge La Roccais a member of the Louisiana State Bar.
Deciding Asylum Cases
Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied
Detailed data on Judge Larocca decisions were examined for the period covering
fiscal years 2013 through 2018. During this period, Judge
Larocca is recorded as deciding 436 asylum claims on their merits. Of these,
he granted 93, gave no conditional grants, and denied 343.
Converted to percentage terms, Larocca denied 78.7 percent and granted (including
conditional grants) 21.3 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Larocca'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 Larocca's denial rate of 78.7 percent, nationally
during this same period, immigration court judges denied 57.6 percent
of asylum claims. In the New Orleans Immigration Court where Judge Larocca
was based, judges there denied asylum 79.9 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)
Judge Larocca can also be ranked compared to each of the 347 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 347 - where 1 represented the highest denial percent and 347
represented the lowest - Judge Larocca here receives a rank of 142. That is 141
judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 205 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 (91%) of them are denied asylum. In contrast, a
significantly higher proportion of represented asylum seekers are successful.
In the case of Judge Larocca, 8.5% were not
represented by an attorney. See Figure 3. For the nation as a whole,
about 20% 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 Larocca, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before him came
from Honduras. Individuals from this nation made up 45 % of his caseload.
Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Larocca were:
Guatemala (16.1 %), El Salvador (10.8%), China (6.7%), India (6.4%).
See Figure 4.
In the nation as a whole during this same period, major nationalities of asylum
seekers, in descending order of frequency, were China (18.5%), El Salvador (14.7%), Mexico (12.0%), Honduras (10.9%), Guatemala (10.3%), India (3.2%), Haiti (2.1%), Nepal (1.8%), Eritrea (1.3%), Ethiopia (1.3%), Somalia (1.2%), Cameroon (1.0%), Bangladesh (1.0%).