Judge-by-Judge Sentencing for 315,702 Federal Offenders, 2015-2019

The latest judge-by-judge sentencing reports, updated through calendar year 2019, have been released by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University. The reports compare the sentences given for each of 916 U.S. District Court judges who sentenced at least 50 defendants in a given district. As of 2019 there were 667 authorized Article III judgeships nationwide, although not all are currently filled. Retired (senior) judges who continue to serve make up the remainder of the 916 judges covered by these reports[1]. Altogether these judges sentenced 315,702 federal offenders during the five-year period ending December 2019[2].

Judge Robert C. Brack who serves on the New Mexico U.S. District Court bench again topped this list for another year[3], passing sentence on 5,089 defendants during this period. Judge Brack serves on bench in Las Cruces, New Mexico, which sits right on the border between the United States and Mexico.

Judge Brack's record was almost tied by Judge Kenneth John Gonzales, who also serves on the New Mexico court in Las Cruces. Judge Gonzales sentenced 5,087 defendants.

In third place was Judge Alia M. Moses who sentenced 4,444 defendants. Judge Moses serves on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas and sits on the bench in Del Rio along the border. Thus, her caseload—similar to Judge Brack and Judge Gonzales—is also dominated by immigration cases.

Indeed, Immigration cases in recent years have made up the majority of all federal prosecutions nationwide. During FY 2019, for example, 106,801 federal convictions were for immigration matters out of a total of 155,246 total federal convictions nationwide—or 69 percent. Judges who serve in the five districts along the southwest border with Mexico held all 50 top spots, with each judge sentencing more than one thousand defendants each.

Among judges not serving in the five districts bordering Mexico, Judge Daniel L. Hovland, who serves on the North Dakota U.S. District Court held the record, sentencing 984 defendants during the five-year period ending December 2019. While his district borders the country's northern border, half (48%) of his cases involved narcotics and drugs and only one percent involved immigration matters.

Following Judge Hovland was Judge Laurie Smith Camp on the Nebraska District Court bench. She sentenced 868 defendants. Again, narcotics and drug offenses dominated her docket accounting for four out of ten (39%) of her sentencing load. Immigration matters only accounted for half as many (20%).

In third place among judges serving in districts not bordering Mexico was Judge Linda R. Read who serves on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa. She sentenced 860 defendants during this period. Her sentencing caseload was dominated by drug cases (34%) followed by weapons (26%) cases. Immigration matters were in third place comprising 22 percent of her caseload.

Free web-query tools allow easy ranking of judges by the number of federal offenders sentenced, as well as drilling in by district as well as type of offense. Detailed reports on each judge comparing the average and median prison sentences handed out are also available on a monthly or annual subscription basis.


[1] See https://www.uscourts.gov/judges-judgeships/about-federal-judges.

[2] See TRAC's earlier report on trends in U.S. District Court workload the number of regular and senior judges at: https://trac.syr.edu/tracreports/judge/395/.

[3] See TRAC's March 2019 report comparing judge caseloads at https://trac.syr.edu/tracreports/judge/501/.

TRAC data on the workloads of federal judges are part of TRAC's Judge Information Center. TRAC compiles, verifies, and publishes information on the workloads of federal district court judges.

The free Criminal Caseload Tool provides information on criminal caseloads.

TRAC's free Civil Caseload Tool provides rankings for nearly every federal district court judge in the country — by the number of civil cases pending at the time of the last update and the number closed in the year prior to the last update. The Judge Information Center also provides information on Immigration Court judges.

In addition to the free caseload data, a subscription to the Center provides access to custom reports on each judge, showing in greater detail the composition of the judge's caseload, the time on average it takes to close cases, how those closing times compare to other judges in the district, and a detailed look at the cases the judge took the longest to close.

TRAC is a nonpartisan, nonprofit data research center affiliated with the Newhouse School of Public Communications and the Whitman School of Management, both at Syracuse University. For more information, to subscribe, or to donate, contact trac@syr.edu or call 315-443-3563.