Judge Dan Trimble

FY 2013 - 2018, Lumpkin Immigration Court

Attorney General Eric Holder appointed Judge Trimble in October 2010. Judge Trimble received a bachelor of science degree in 1975 from the United States Military Academy and a juris doctorate in 1981 from Case Western Reserve University. From 2009 to October 2010, he served as deputy circuit executive, Office of the Circuit Executive, 11th Judicial Circuit of the United States, Atlanta, Ga. From 2004 to 2009, he was an assistant district attorney, Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit, Hamilton, Ga. From 1975 to 2004, Judge Trimble served in the U.S. Army in various capacities including circuit trial judge, Fort Benning, Ga., chief legislative counsel, Department of the Army and deputy chief legal counsel, Fort Gordon, Ga. Judge Trimble is a member of the Indiana State Bar and the State Bar of Georgia.

Deciding Asylum Cases

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Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied

Detailed data on Judge Trimble decisions were examined for the period covering fiscal years 2013 through 2018. During this period, Judge Trimble is recorded as deciding 425 asylum claims on their merits. Of these, he granted 24, gave no conditional grants, and denied 401. Converted to percentage terms, Trimble denied 94.4 percent and granted (including conditional grants) 5.6 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Trimble's denial rate fiscal year-by-year over this recent period.

Nationwide Comparisons

Compared to Judge Trimble's denial rate of 94.4 percent, nationally during this same period, immigration court judges denied 57.6 percent of asylum claims. In the Lumpkin Immigration Court where Judge Trimble was based, judges there denied asylum 93.5 percent of the time. See Figure 2.

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Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)

Judge Trimble 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 Trimble here receives a rank of 32. That is 31 judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 315 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.

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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 Trimble, 55.5% 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.

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Figure 4: Asylum Decisions by Nationality

For Judge Trimble, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before him came from El Salvador. Individuals from this nation made up 25.9 % of his caseload. Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Trimble were: Honduras (12.5 %), Guatemala (11.1%), Mexico (10.8%), Haiti (6.1%). 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%).

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