Judge Must Face Trial For Allegedly Obstructing Deportation

A federal appeals court has refused to dismiss a case in which a Massachusetts state court judge allegedly arranged for the escape of an undocumented immigrant who previously was twice deported and was suspected of narcotics possession and drunk driving.

A three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit said Judge Shelley M. Richmond Joseph, of Newton, MA, and her then clerk, Wesley MacGregor, must face trial for allegedly conspiring on April 2, 2019 to release the prisoner, who was appearing before Judge Joseph to be arraigned.

Judge Joseph and MacGregor allegedly turned off the courtroom recorder in violating of courthouse rules, and devised a ruse that the prisoner would go to a basement lockup to retrieve some property and then exit the courthouse. MacGregor allegedly used his access card to swipe the prisoner out the back door of the courthouse (and then allegedly lied about accidentally turning off the courtroom recorder.)

Meanwhile, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent was waiting in the lobby to detain the prisoner, Jose Medina-Perez. The ICE agent was not informed that Medina-Perez was gone for several hours, until the courthouse closed.

The prisoner, Medina-Perez, then 38, was arrested for narcotics possession in Newton, which has been a sanctuary city since 2017. He was suspected of being the subject of a drunk driving warrant issued in Pennsylvania. His fingerprints indicated he was deported twice from the U.S. and he was barred from reentering the country until 2027.

Premature

Judge Joseph was suspended without pay. However, the Massachusetts Supreme Court granted Judge Joseph’s request to reinstate her full salary of $181,000, plus benefits, plus $51,000 in retroactive back pay. The Shelley Joseph Legal Defend Fund has launched a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of $750,000, claiming she is a victim of a “monumental prosecutorial overreach.” All donations are anonymous.

According to the 1st Circuit panel:

“The indictment does not allege that Judge Joseph and Deputy MacGregor merely declined to enforce federal immigration law. Instead, it alleges that they
affirmatively interfered with federal officials’ attempts to enforce federal law.”

President Joe Biden on May 22, 2021 issued an interim guidance that prohibits ICE agents from making routine arrests at courthouses.

Judge Joseph faces 20 years in prison; MacGregor, 30 years.

The decision is United States v. Shelley M. Richmond Joseph and Wesley Macgregor, No. 20-1787 and No. 20-1794 (02/28/22).

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