Federal prosecutors have charged a MA judge and a court officer with conspiracy and obstruction of justice, alleging that they helped an undocumented immigrant escape a courthouse to elude immigration officials.
After that, the government says without the knowledge of the ICE officer, MacGregor releases the alleged suspect out the back door, the government alleges, and says that "defendant Joseph and the Defense Attorney discussed devising a way to have A.S. avoid being arrested by the ICE Officer".
During the court proceedings, Joseph asked for the courtroom's recording device to be turned off, the indictment reads.
Shelley previously served as a criminal defense attorney and was appointed to the MA district court by Governor Charlie Baker in 2017. "We can not 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 defendant, who's not identified by name in court documents, had been previously deported twice from the U.S.
Judge Joseph has been suspended from her job, without pay, according to Gov. Charlie Baker, whose office said he supported that decision. "But I don't believe she should be hearing criminal cases until that federal case is resolved", Baker said at the time.
She said the governor is pushing for legislation that would explicitly allow state courts and law enforcement to work with ICE to detain deportation targets.
Judge Joseph and a courtroom officer who assisted her in helping Mr. Perez escape were expected to make their first appearance before a federal judge Thursday afternoon.
Richmond Joseph came under federal investigation past year after authorities said she and a court officer schemed to let the man escape from the Newton courthouse. "I'm not gonna allow them to come in here".
More recently, almost 70 ex-judges urged ICE to stop courthouse arrests in a December letter.
"It is about the rule of law", he said.
But during the course of the proceedings, Joseph allegedly arranged for the suspect, his lawyer and an interpreter, to leave through a different exit, escorted by MacGregor. When Immigration and Customs Enforcement learned about the arrest, it issued a detainer for the immigrant, who was also previously barred from re-entering the US until 2027.
Massachusetts' top court in 2017 ruled that state police can not detain illegal immigrants exclusively to buy time for federal officials to take them into custody.
The Newton courthouse's policy specifically said that Homeland Security officers were allowed to be in the building to perform their duties and explicitly approved officers entering the court's cellblock to take custody of people once they were processed by the state.
"We did not bring this case in response to the public debate over immigration enforcement", he said. MacGregor was additionally charged with perjury.
Federal authorities are charging Joseph and MacGregor with three obstruction-related counts and have also charged MacGregor with one count of perjury for allegedly lying to a grand jury in relation to the matter.