Judge W. Scott Laragy
FY 2015 - 2020, Oakdale Immigration Court
Attorney General Jeff Sessions appointed W. Scott Laragy to begin hearing cases in August2018. Judge Laragy earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1991 and a Juris Doctor in 1994, bothfrom Loyola University New Orleans. He has served in the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG)Corps for the U.S. Navy since 1995, first on active duty until 2007, and is currently serving inthe reserves. From 2017 to 2018, he was counsel to the director in the Executive Office forUnited States Attorneys (EOUSA), Department of Justice (DOJ), in Washington, D.C. From2012 to 2017, he was legislative counsel for the EOUSA, DOJ. From 2007 to 2012, he wasassistant U.S. attorney for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Orleans. Judge Laragy is a memberof the Louisiana State and the District of Columbia Bars.
Deciding Asylum Cases
Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied
Detailed data on Judge Laragy decisions were examined for the period covering
fiscal years 2015 through 2020. During this period, Judge
Laragy is recorded as deciding 203 asylum claims on their merits. Of these,
he granted 20, gave no conditional grants, and denied 183.
Converted to percentage terms, Laragy denied 90.1 percent and granted (including
conditional grants) 9.9 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Laragy'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 Laragy's denial rate of 90.1 percent, nationally
during this same period, immigration court judges denied 66.7 percent
of asylum claims. In the Oakdale Immigration Court where Judge Laragy
was based, judges there denied asylum 86.4 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)
Judge Laragy 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 Laragy here receives a rank of 115. That is 114
judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 411 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 Laragy, 42.4% 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 Laragy, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before him came
from Cuba. Individuals from this nation made up 50.7 % of his caseload.
Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Laragy were:
Cameroon (9.9 %), Nicaragua (4.9%), China (4.4%), Honduras (3.9%).
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%).