Judge Victoria L. Ghartey

    FY 2006 – 2011, Orlando Immigration Court

    Judge Ghartey was appointed as an Immigration Judge in September 1995. Prior to her assignment to the Orlando Immigration Court in June 2003, Judge Gharty served as an Immigration Judge in the New York Immigration Court.

    She received a Juris Doctorate from Suffolk University Law School in 1986. Judge Ghartey received a Bachelor of Laws degree from University of Ghana in 1970, and a Master of Laws degree from the University of Sydney in 1980.

    From 1990 to 1995, she was in private practice in Boston. Judge Ghartey served as an assistant general counsel for the Massachusetts Department of Public Welfare from 1987 to 1990.

    She served as an associate/researcher for the Law Offices of Lofton & Morton from 1986 to 1987, also in Boston. From 1972 to 1977, and then from 1982 to 1983, she worked for the Ministry of Justice, Ghana, as a senior state attorney.

    Judge Ghartey was a principal state counsel for Rivers State Ministry of Justice, Port-Harcourt, Nigeria, from 1980 through 1982. She is a member of the Ghana and Massachusetts Bars.

    Deciding Asylum Cases

    Detailed data on Judge Ghartey decisions were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2006 through 2011. During this period, Judge Ghartey is recorded as deciding 1519 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, she granted 839, gave no conditional grants, and denied 677.

    Converted to percentage terms, Ghartey denied 44.6 percent and granted (including conditional grants)
    55.4 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Ghartey’s denial rate fiscal year-by-year over this recent period.

    Nationwide Comparisons

    Compared to Judge Ghartey’s denial rate of 44.6 percent, nationally during this same period, immigration court judges denied 53.2 percent of asylum claims. In the Orlando Immigration Court where Judge Ghartey was based, judges there denied asylum 61.2 percent of the time. See Figure 2.

    Judge Ghartey 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 Ghartey here receives a rank of 191. That is 190 judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 65 denied asylum at the same rate or less often. Ranks are tallied separately for each immigration court.

    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.

    Representation

    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 Ghartey, 5.3% were not represented by an attorney. For the nation as a whole, about 11.1% 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.

    For Judge Ghartey, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before her came from Colombia. Individuals from this nation made up 31.9 % of her caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Ghartey were: Haiti (28.4 %), Venezuela (11.2%), Albania (4.4%), China (3.2%).

    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%).