by WorldTribune Staff, April 25, 2019
A Massachusetts judge and a courtroom officer were charged by the federal government with obstruction of justice for allegedly helping an illegal immigrant sneak out the courtroom’s back door as an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent waited at the front door to detain the immigrant.
District Court Judge Shelley Richmond Joseph and Trial Court Officer Wesley MacGregor were indicted on charges of “conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of a federal proceeding – aiding and abetting provide for sentences of no greater than 20 and five years in prison, respectively; five and three years of supervised release, respectively; and a fine of $250,000,” said a press statement from the Department of Justice.
The incident occurred at the Newton courthouse in April 2018. Authorities say an ICE agent was at the courthouse to detain the illegal immigrant, a Dominican who had twice been deported and had been barred from entering the U.S. until 2027.
In February 2017, the Newton City Council voted to declare their jurisdiction a sanctuary city.
The DOJ’s statement detailed the April 2018 incident:
“The ICE Officer announced his presence to Courthouse personnel, including Joseph, upon arrival. Prior to the afternoon session, the courtroom clerk – at Joseph’s direction – allegedly instructed the ICE Officer to leave the courtroom and wait outside in the lobby, stating that in the event that the defendant was released, it would be through the courtroom and into the lobby.
“At 2:48 p.m. the case was called and the proceedings were captured on the courtroom’s audio recorder, as prescribed under the rules for all State District Courts. The audio recording captured Joseph, the defense attorney and the ADA speaking at side bar about the defendant and the ICE detainer. Joseph then allegedly ordered the courtroom clerk to ‘go off the record for a moment.’ For the next 52 seconds, the courtroom audio recorder was turned off, in violation of the District Court rules. At 2:51 p.m., the recorder was turned back on, and Joseph indicated her intent to release the defendant. According to the charging documents, the defense attorney asked to speak with the defendant downstairs and Joseph responded, ‘That’s fine. Of course.’ When reminded by the clerk that an ICE Officer was in the courthouse, Joseph stated, ‘That’s fine. I’m not gonna allow them to come in here. But he’s been released on this.’ Immediately following the proceeding, MacGregor allegedly escorted the defendant, his attorney and an interpreter downstairs to the lockup and used his security access card to open the rear sally-port exit and release the defendant at 3:01 p.m.”
The illegal immigrant was caught by immigration officials about a month later and is now in immigration proceedings, authorities say.
Joseph, who was appointed as a District Court judge in 2017, has been suspended without pay, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court said.
The arrest of the judge “is a hard-nosed move by President Donald Trump against sanctuary cities and states,” Breitbart’s Neil Munro wrote. “These anti-enforcement jurisdictions are proliferating as progressives and business interests ally to protect their supply of cheap labor, which helps to minimize wage increases in Trump’s Hire American economy.”