Hearing delayed for judge accused of helping illegal immigrant escape ICE

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NEWTON, MA– Remember the line from the old 70’s song by American singer-songwriter Paul Simon about the “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover?” One was simply to “Slip out the back, Jack,” which is precisely what former Massachusetts District Court Judge Shelley Joseph is accused of.

Or, more formally, it’s precisely what she was indicted for, also known as obstruction of justice.

Joseph is accused of helping an illegal immigrant held on drug charges escape from the ICE officer who awaited him outside of Joseph’s courtroom.

It was April 25, 2019, when the former District Court Judge was indicted in federal court in Boston for preventing an ICE officer from taking custody of an undocumented defendant. In other words, she would not allow the ICE officer to wait in her courtroom to arrest Jose Medina-Perez, an illegal immigrant.

Joseph is now suspended from her $184,000-a-year position as a Newton, Massachusetts District Court Judge. She and retired court officer Wesley MacGregor are both accused of plotting the escape of an illegal immigrant from the courthouse’s back door.

Joseph’s role was said to be standing post to avoid an ICE agent in April of 2018.

Joseph’s attorney is citing “political bias” as part of her defense, raising what her defense also alleges were “grossly improper government leaks” to The Boston Globe on December 1, 2018, and May 23, 2019.

Joseph faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty of helping the illegal immigrant evade federal authorities.

An April 15, 2020 hearing on a motion to dismiss by Joseph’s attorney was postponed because of COVID-19 precautions.

In another case in 2017, a different Judge in Newton followed a similar policy disavowing the presence of any ICE agents in his courtroom and allowing another illegal alien out on bond, who then fled the country.

That policy is also a part of the defense’s case, along with U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling allegedly buying-off its star witness. In that case, Lelling allegedly gave the illegal immigrant “complete immunity” from prosecution as long as he told the same story to a Grand Jury and eventually to a jury during trial.

Lelling went on:

“In fiscal 2019, ICE made 2,469 civil arrests in the New England region. Approximately 90% of these arrestees had prior criminal convictions or arrests on criminal charges.

ICE’s removals that year were the highest in five years and, again, the majority of those removed were convicted criminals. This should be utterly uncontroversial. In fact, it should be applauded.”

That may have been too much for Joseph and her attorneys to take. Imagine, applauding ICE agents for removing criminals from the streets.

Back to former Judge Joseph.

During an alleged sidebar conversation between Joseph and Perez’s defense attorney and the ADA, it was was relayed to the now-suspended Judge that an ICE officer was waiting on him outside of the courtroom. At that point, she purportedly asked the clerk to turn-off the recording device.

Suspended Judge Shelley Joseph and her court officer are accused of turning the mic on and off  as convenient for them. Concealing such a conversation is a violation of Massachusetts courtroom rules, as well, according to the indictment.

Instead of having Perez exit through the courtroom lobby, he was directed to exit through the rear of the courthouse. The rear door leads to a parking lot, which shows it was a clear move by Joseph to allow Perez to “slip out the back, Jack.”

Joseph, in all, conspired to help the undocumented immigrant, stopped the recording device to hide her actions, and lied to her superiors, according to prosecutors in this case, all actions which lead to the indictment of obstruction of justice in 2019.

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U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said the illegal alien was captured about a month after the incident and is facing deportation proceedings. The indictment indicates he was previously deported in both 2003 and 2007.

Joseph’s attorney filed a 12-page letter to prosecutors last week requesting federal agencies in ICE, the Department of Justice and Homeland Security review all cases from the government which reveal evidence of “political bias,” the biggest part of her defense argument.

Joseph is currently on paid leave.

She also continues to use “judicial immunity,” or the complete control over her courtroom, as part of her defense, as well.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Wichers wrote:

“The government does not dispute that a judge sitting in Newton District Court engages in a judicial act when she orders a criminal defendant to be released from court custody.

Certain affirmative actions taken for the purpose of interfering with an immigration proceeding concerning an alien’s removability can constitute obstruction of justice if the person acts with corrupt intent.

The grand jury found probable cause that Judge Joseph did precisely that.”

We’ll see how the “political bias” debate plays-out in November when American citizens vote for our President and candidates who will not allow undocumented workers who commit crimes to be escorted out of courthouses by judges and their court services officers.

Talk about political bias.

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