61 Retired Judges Back Peer Who Allegedly Helped Criminal Alien Avoid ICE

District Court Judge Shelley M. Richmond Joseph departs federal court, Thursday, April 25, 2019, in Boston after facing obstruction of justice charges for allegedly helping a man in the country illegally evade immigration officials as he left her Newton, Mass., courthouse after a hearing in 2018. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
AP File Photo: Steven Senne

A group of 61 retired Massachusetts judges filed an amicus brief in support of a peer charged with obstruction of justice and perjury. The charges against the judge stem from an incident where she allegedly allowed a criminal alien to avoid arrest while in court.

Massachusetts District Court Judge Shelley M. Richmond Joseph and trial court officer Wesley MacGregor face prosecution from the federal government following an incident earlier this year, Breitbart News’ Neil Munro reported. The judge allegedly allowed a twice-deported illegal alien charged with a narcotics violation to avoid arrest by ICE officers by slipping out the back door of the courtroom. The judge allegedly kept immigration officers waiting outside the front doors while allowing the fugitive to flee. A federal grand jury handed down an indictment for “conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of a federal proceeding.”

Earlier this week, a group of 61 retired judges from Massachusetts filed an amicus brief in support of the defendants.

“The prosecution at issue in this case, if permitted to go forward, will irrevocably tip the scales of justice because it will undermine the very authorities that make balance possible,” the retired judges wrote, according to a report by Law.com. “As argued in Joseph’s motion to dismiss, the prosecution is contrary to law.”

The group of 61 said the prosecution would “set a bad precedent,” the legal news website reported.

The retired judges said the prosecution “portends an unacceptable risk of criminal jeopardy that inevitably will chill the ability of state court judges to insure equal justice under the law without fear or favor to any person or point of view,” according to the brief.

Prosecutors with the Department of Justice responded to the brief stating the arguments appear to match those made by the judge’s attorney. Those attorneys reportedly claimed the judge has immunity against prosecution for what she considered to be “courtroom management.”

“Two capable law firms representing Judge Joseph have submitted an exhaustive 31-page brief raising numerous legal arguments in support of their client’s motion,” U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Andrew Lelling wrote in response to the brief. ”The committee’s proposed brief merely echoes the judicial immunity argument already fully developed in Judge Joseph’s brief.”

In the underlying offense, prosecutors stated:

The 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.

Members of the Newton City Council voted in February 2017 to declare their municipality a sanctuary, Breitbart News reported.
Earlier this year, U.S. Attorney Lelling said, “We cannot pick and choose the federal laws we follow, or use our personal views to justify violating the law. Everyone in the justice system – not just judges, but law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and defense counsel – should be held to a higher standard. The people of Massachusetts expect that, just like they expect judges to be fair, impartial and to follow the law themselves.”

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for the Breitbart Texas-Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Facebook.

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