Judge Marsha K. Nettles
FY 2013 - 2018, Detroit Immigration Court
Judge Nettles was appointed as an Immigration Judge in February 2005. She received a Bachelor
of Arts degree from Michigan State University in 1985, and a Juris Doctorate from the
University of Detroit, Mercy School of Law, in 1988. Prior to her appointment as an
Immigration Judge, Judge Nettles served as chief counsel for the Department of Homeland
Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Detroit, from March 2003 to
February 2005. From February 2004 to May 2004, she served as acting chief of the National
Security Law Division for ICE, Office of the Principal Legal Advisor, in Washington, DC.
Judge Nettles worked as district counsel from September 2001 to March 2003, and as assistant
district counsel from April 1997 to September 2001, both for the former Immigration and
Naturalization Service in Detroit. She is a member of the State Bar of Michigan.
Deciding Asylum Cases
Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied
Detailed data on Judge Nettles decisions were examined for the period covering
fiscal years 2013 through 2018. During this period, Judge
Nettles is recorded as deciding 119 asylum claims on their merits. Of these,
she granted 23, gave no conditional grants, and denied 96.
Converted to percentage terms, Nettles denied 80.7 percent and granted (including
conditional grants) 19.3 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Nettles's
denial rate fiscal year-by-year over this recent period.
(Rates for years with less than 25 decisions are not shown.)
Compared to Judge Nettles's denial rate of 80.7 percent, nationally
during this same period, immigration court judges denied 57.6 percent
of asylum claims. In the Detroit Immigration Court where Judge Nettles
was based, judges there denied asylum 80.9 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)
Judge Nettles can also be ranked compared to each of the 347 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 347 - where 1 represented the highest denial percent and 347
represented the lowest - Judge Nettles here receives a rank of 130. That is 129
judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 217 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.
Figure 3: Asylum Seeker Had Representation
If an asylum seeker is not represented by an
attorney, almost all (91%) of them are denied asylum. In contrast, a
significantly higher proportion of represented asylum seekers are successful.
In the case of Judge Nettles, 30.3% were not
represented by an attorney. See Figure 3. For the nation as a whole,
about 20% 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 Nettles, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before her came
from Iraq. Individuals from this nation made up 16 % of her caseload.
Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Nettles were:
Guatemala (13.4 %), Honduras (12.6%), El Salvador (8.4%), Albania (5%).
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 (18.5%), El Salvador (14.7%), Mexico (12.0%), Honduras (10.9%), Guatemala (10.3%), India (3.2%), Haiti (2.1%), Nepal (1.8%), Eritrea (1.3%), Ethiopia (1.3%), Somalia (1.2%), Cameroon (1.0%), Bangladesh (1.0%).