April 29, 2009

roulette justice

Asylum seekers have better luck
with northern or female judges

Northern, female judges most likely to let them stay
BY ABDON M. PALLASCH Political Reporter apallasch@suntimes.com

If you're a political refugee afraid to go back to your homeland, pray you get a woman judge or a Northerner.

A male judge sitting in a Southern court is about twice as likely to reject your asylum plea, according to research from two Georgetown University professors.

"The fact that women are more sympathetic to asylum seekers -- that is certainly a factor, and maybe Southerners don't like foreigners as much," Federal Appellate Judge Richard Posner said with a chuckle. "Maybe people in big cities are more used to having large [less] indigenous populations. Maybe it's different in more homogenous areas of the United States."

Posner has been the most outspoken appellate judge criticizing the decisions of federal immigration judges and he sits on the appellate court most likely to grant asylum pleas -- the Chicago-based 7th Circuit. Posner spoke this past week at a seminar by the Georgetown professors -- Philip Schrag and Andrew Schoenholtz who are compiling the book about how U.S. Courts handle asylum cases.

What they found was utter randomness -- some judges who refuse all asylum requests, others who grant almost all.

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