Court Observer Project (COP)

Although the Court Observer Project began under the guidance of ACLU of NC in June of 2017, COP continues today under the leadership of AIR.  Currently two hundred volunteers have been trained through the Court Observer Project to go into Charlotte Immigration Court and observe Master Calendar Hearings to determine if Federal immigration laws are being followed.

Goals of the project:

As Immigration Court Judges become accustomed to Court Observers being present and observing the procedures followed during the “Master Calendar” hearings (i.e. non-trial hearings that deal with establishing preliminary facts, potential eligibility for legal status and the like), it is hoped that pressure will build from the grassroots work and will affect attitudes and actions of immigrant judges.   As judges follow current US immigration law, it is hoped that respondents (non-citizens whom the government is seeking to deport) will be given full access to legal means to obtain legal status in the United States.  These efforts will hopefully improve the number of asylum grants (and fair outcomes generally) in our region as judges ensure that due process is being followed, as awareness of the plight of those seeking asylum spreads, and ultimately as public consciousness is increased.

Judge-by-Judge Asylum Decisions in Charlotte Immigration Court

FY 2013-2018

  Denial Rate
JudgeDecisions% Grants% Denials
Couch, V. Stuart5927.992.1
Harris, Rodger C.1669.690.4
Pettinato, Barry J.8021189
Holmes-Simmons, Theresa39419.880.2

Additional Asylum Grant Rate information can be found at:

Tool that allows you to drill down into the data: