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

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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.)

Nationwide Comparisons

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.

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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.

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Figure 3: Asylum Seeker Had Representation
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.

Nationality

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 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%).

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