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Judge Victoria L. Ghartey
FY 2018 - 2023, Orlando Immigration Court

Published Oct 19, 2023

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 decisions by Judge Ghartey were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2018 through 2023. During this period, court records show that Judge Ghartey decided 577 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, she granted asylum for 114, granted 3 other types of relief, and denied relief to 460. Converted to percentage terms, Ghartey denied 79.7 percent and granted 20.3 percent of asylum cases (including forms of relief other than asylum).

Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Ghartey's denial rate each fiscal year over this recent period. (Rates for years with less than 25 decisions are not shown.)

Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied

Nationwide Comparisons

Compared to Judge Ghartey's denial rate of 79.7 percent, Immigration Court judges across the country denied 60.6 percent of asylum claims during this same period. Judges at the Orlando Immigration Court where Judge Ghartey decided these cases denied asylum 79.5 percent of the time. See Figure 2.

Judge Ghartey's asylum grant and denial rates are compared with other judges serving on the same court in this table. Note that when an Immigration Judge serves on more than one court during the same period, separate Immigration Judge reports are created for any Court in which the judge rendered at least 100 asylum decisions.

Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)

Why Do Denial Rates Vary Among Judges?

Although denial rates are shaped by each Judge's judicial philosophy, denial rates are also shaped by other factors, such as the types of cases on the Judge's docket, the detained status of immigrant respondents, current immigration policies, and other factors beyond an individual Judge's control. For example, TRAC has previously found that legal representation and the nationality of the asylum seeker are just two factors that appear to impact asylum decision outcomes.

The composition of cases may differ significantly between Immigration Courts in the country. Within a single Court when cases are randomly assigned to judges sitting on that Court, each Judge should have roughly a similar composition of cases given a sufficient number of asylum cases. Then variations in asylum decisions among Judges on the same Immigration Court would appear to reflect, at least in part, the judicial philosophy that the Judge brings to the bench. However, if judges within a Court are assigned to specialized dockets or hearing locations, then case compositions are likely to continue to differ and can contribute to differences in asylum denial rates.


When asylum seekers are not represented by an attorney, almost all of them (80%) are denied asylum. In contrast, a significantly higher proportion of represented asylum seekers are successful. In the case of Judge Ghartey, 3.6% were not represented by an attorney. See Figure 3. For the nation as a whole, about 15.7% of asylum seekers are not represented.

Figure 3: Asylum Seeker Had Representation


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.

The largest group of asylum seekers appearing before Judge Ghartey came from Guatemala. Individuals from this country made up 23.7% of her caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Ghartey were: Honduras (22.9%), Haiti (10.1%), El Salvador (8.8%), Mexico (5.7%). See Figure 4.

In the nation as a whole during this same period, major nationalities of asylum seekers, in descending order of frequency, were El Salvador (16.6%), Guatemala (15.1%), Honduras (13.8%), Mexico (9.2%), China (6.8%), India (5.1%), Venezuela (3.2%), Ecuador (3.1%), Cuba (2.4%), Nicaragua (2.3%), Brazil (2.0%), Colombia (1.4%), Cameroon (1.4%).

Figure 4: Asylum Decisions by Nationality
TRAC is a nonpartisan, nonprofit data research center affiliated with the Newhouse School of Public Communications and the Whitman School of Management, both at Syracuse University. For more information, to subscribe, or to donate, contact trac@syr.edu or call 315-443-3563.