A Massachusetts judge has left court in tears after being indicted on obstruction of justice charges for allegedly helping an illegal immigrant evade immigration officials.
Judge Shelley M Richmond Joseph and trial court officer Wesley MacGregor are accused of conspiring to prevent Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from taking an undocumented immigrant into custody at Newton District Court on April 2, 2018.
Joseph had allegedly ordered the courtroom recording device to be turned off for 52 seconds while she and the defendant Jose Medina-Perez’s lawyer had a conversation about getting him out of the courthouse instead of handing him over to an ICE officer, according to the indictment. MacGregor allegedly used his access badge to release Medina-Perez through a rear door.
Joseph was seen crying when she left federal court in Boston Thursday.
According to CBS, Joseph’s attorney Tom Hoopes said outside court: ‘This prosecution is absolutely political, Shelley Joseph is absolutely innocent.’
The American Civil Liberties Union also released a statement alleging the charges were the result of President Donald Trump’s ‘anti-immigrant agenda’.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey deemed that the prosecution was a ‘radical and politically-motivated attack on our state and the independence of our courts’.
Medina-Perez, who had been deported on two prior occasions, was arrested four days earlier for drug possession and being a fugitive from justice in Pennsylvania. Medina-Perez remains at large.
ICE became aware of his arrest after his fingerprints were processed and an order was issued for a federal immigration detainer.
Prosecutors say Joseph participated by creating a pretext for the defendant to be brought downstairs for ‘further interview’ so he could be released through that door, the indictment said.
Massachusetts US Attorney Andrew Lelling announced the charges against Joseph and MacGregor on Thursday.
‘The allegations in today’s indictment involve obstruction by a sitting judge, that is intentional interference with the enforcement of federal law, and that is a crime,’ Lelling said.
‘We cannot pick and choose the federal laws we follow, or use our personal views to justify violating the law.’
Joseph and MacGregor face charges of obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of a federal proceeding, according to the indictment.
MacGregor is also charged with perjury on suspicion of giving false testimony to a federal grand jury that was reviewing the case.
Story cited here.