Judge Robert D. Vinikoor
FY 2001 - 2006
Judge Vinikoor was appointed as an Immigration Judge in January 1984. He received a Bachelor
of Science degree from the University of Delaware in 1971, and a Juris Doctorate from the
University of Baltimore in 1976. From 1982 to 1984, he was a special assistant U.S. attorney
at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago. He also served as trial attorney in Chicago, and general
attorney in Miami, Florida, with the former Immigration and Naturalization Service from 1976
to 1982. Judge Vinikoor also serves as an adjunct professor at Loyola University School of Law.
Judge Vinikoor is a member of the Maryland, New Jersey, Florida, and Illinois Bars.
Deciding Asylum Cases
Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied
Detailed data on Judge Vinikoor decisions are available for the period covering
fiscal years 2001 through 2006. During this period, Judge
Vinikoor is recorded as deciding 1125 asylum claims on their merits. Of these,
he granted 280, gave 6 conditional grants, and denied 839.
Converted to percentage terms, Vinikoor denied 74.6 percent and granted (including
conditional grants) 25.4 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Vinikoor's
denial rate fiscal year-by-year over this recent period.
Compared to Judge Vinikoor's denial rate of 74.6 percent, nationally
during this same period, immigration court judges denied 60.8 percent
of asylum claims. In the Chicago Immigration Court where Judge Vinikoor
was usually based, judges there denied asylum 63.1 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)
Judge Vinikoor can also be ranked compared to each of the 238 individual immigration judges
serving during this period who rendered at least one hundred decisions. If judges were ranked
from 1 to 238 - where 1 represented the highest denial percent and 238
represented the lowest - Judge Vinikoor receives a rank of 87. That is 86
judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 151 denied asylum at the same
rate or less often.
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.
Figure 3: Asylum Seeker Had Representation
If an asylum seeker is not represented by an
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 Vinikoor, 20.8% were not
represented by an attorney. See Figure 3. For the nation as a whole,
about 8.2% 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.
Figure 4: Asylum Decisions by Nationality
For Judge Vinikoor, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before him came
from China. Individuals from this nation made up 13.2 % of his caseload.
Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Vinikoor were:
Guatemala (11 %), Albania (6.8%), Pakistan (4.4%), Colombia (3.9%).
See Figure 4.
In the nation as a whole during this same period, major nationalities of asylum
seekers, in descending order of frequency, were
China (22.3%), Colombia (10.2%), Haiti (9.9%), Albania (3.9%), Indonesia (3.8%),
India (3.5%), Guatemala (3.1%), El Salvador (2.1%), Armenia (2.1%), Mexico (1.7%),
Russia (1.6%), Ethiopia (1.6%), Pakistan (1.5%), and Cameroon (1.4%).