Judge Randall Wilson Duncan

FY 2013 - 2018, Lumpkin Immigration Court

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch appointed Randall Wilson Duncan to begin hearing cases in October 2016. Judge Duncan earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1977 and a Master of Public Administration in 1985, both from the University of Georgia, and a Juris Doctor in 1995 from the John Marshall Law School. From 2007 to October 2016, he served in various capacities for the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security, including as a senior attorney, national security attorney, worksite enforcement attorney, special assistant U.S. attorney, and assistant chief counsel, in Atlanta. From 2003 through 2007, he served as a deputy director for the Prosecuting Attorney’s Council of Georgia, in Atlanta. From 2002 through 2003, he served as legal director for the Georgia Sentencing Commission, in Atlanta. From 2000 through 2002, he served as an assistant district attorney for the Coweta Judicial Circuit, in Newnan, Ga. From 1997 through 1999, he served as a public policy attorney for Applied Research Services, in Atlanta. Judge Duncan is a member of the State Bar of Georgia.

Deciding Asylum Cases

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Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied

Detailed data on Judge Duncan decisions were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2013 through 2018. During this period, Judge Duncan is recorded as deciding 207 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, he granted 12, gave no conditional grants, and denied 195. Converted to percentage terms, Duncan denied 94.2 percent and granted (including conditional grants) 5.8 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Duncan'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 Duncan's denial rate of 94.2 percent, nationally during this same period, immigration court judges denied 57.6 percent of asylum claims. In the Lumpkin Immigration Court where Judge Duncan was based, judges there denied asylum 93.5 percent of the time. See Figure 2.

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Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)

Judge Duncan 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 Duncan here receives a rank of 34. That is 33 judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 313 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 (91%) of them are denied asylum. In contrast, a significantly higher proportion of represented asylum seekers are successful. In the case of Judge Duncan, 48.8% 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.

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Figure 4: Asylum Decisions by Nationality

For Judge Duncan, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before him came from El Salvador. Individuals from this nation made up 16.9 % of his caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Duncan were: Haiti (12.1 %), Guatemala (11.6%), Honduras (11.6%), India (9.7%). See Figure 4.

In the nation as a whole during this same period, major nationalities of asylum seekers, in descending order of frequency, were 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%).

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