Judge James K. Grim

    Judge Grim was appointed as an immigration judge in April 2009. He received a bachelor of arts degree in 1988 from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a juris doctorate in 1992 from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

    From October 2008 to April 2009, Judge Grim served as deputy chief counsel for ICE, DHS, in Orlando. From October 2005 to October 2008, he served as an attorney for Customs and Border Protection, DHS, in Tampa. From March 2003 to October 2005, Judge Grim served as an assistant chief counsel for ICE in Bradenton.

    From October 1995 to March 2003, he served as an assistant district counsel for the former INS in Bradenton and Miami. From October 1993 to October 1995, Judge Grim was in private practice in Fremont, Neb.

    From February to October 1993, he worked as a staff attorney at Legal Services of Southeast Nebraska. Judge Grim is a member of the Nebraska Bar.

    Deciding Asylum Cases

    Detailed data on Judge Grim decisions were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2006 through 2011 During this period, Judge Grim is recorded as deciding 371 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, he granted 62, gave no conditional grants, and denied 285. Converted to percentage terms, Grim denied 77.1 percent and granted (including conditional grants) 22.9 percent.

    Nationwide Comparisons

    Compared to Judge Grim’s denial rate of 77.1 percent, nationally during this same period, immigration court judges denied 53.2 percent of asylum claims. In the Orlando Immigration Court where Judge Grim was based, judges there denied asylum 61.2 percent of the time. Judge Grim can also be ranked compared to each of the 256 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 256 – where 1 represented the highest denial percent and 256 represented the lowest – Judge Grim here receives a rank of 60. That is 59 judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 196 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.

    Why You Need an Attorney

    If an asylum seeker is not represented by an immigration attorney, almost all (87%) of them are denied asylum. In contrast, a significantly higher proportion of represented asylum seekers are successful. In the case of Judge Grim, 6.7% were not represented by an attorney. For the nation as a whole, about 11.1% 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.

    For Judge Grim, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before him came from Haiti. Individuals from this nation made up 29.1 % of his caseload.

    Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Grim were: Venezuela (16.4 %), Colombia (14.3%), Guatemala (5.4%), China (3.5%). In the nation as a whole during this same period, major nationalities of asylum seekers, in descending order of frequency, were China (23.3%), Haiti (8.4%), El Salvador (5.9%), Colombia (5.5%), Guatemala (5.3%), Indonesia (2.9%), India (2.6%), Venezuela (2.5%), Ethiopia (2.1%), Albania (2%), Honduras (2%), Mexico (2%), Guinea (1.6%).