A Massachusetts judge was indicted Thursday and charged with obstruction of justice after allegedly allowing an illegal immigrant to evade arrest by an ICE agent by sneaking him out the back door of the courthouse.
Audio recordings of the proceedings indicate that the judge, Newton District Court Judge Shelley M. Richmond Joseph, a defense attorney, and a state prosecutor were all discussing that an ICE agent was prepared to detain Jose Medina-Perez on April 2, 2018.
The agent had just been asked to leave the courtroom and wait for the illegal alien in the lobby when the plan was discussed.
Out the back door. “ICE will pick him up if he walks out the front door,” the defense attorney says in the recording. “But I think the best thing for us to do is clear the fugitive issue and release him on personal—”
Shortly thereafter, the recording stopped when someone requested to go “off the record,” which is a violation of court proceedings.
Medina-Perez, who was facing drug charges and had a warrant out for a drunk driving incident in Pennsylvania, was released by Joseph after she said, “I’m not gonna allow them [ICE] to come in here.”
Feds indict Mass. judge on obstruction for helping an undocumented immigrant escape a courthouse to avoid being arrested by ICE https://t.co/6TSm1xleFQ
— GOVERNING (@GOVERNING) April 25, 2019
Former court officer Wesley MacGregor was also indicted, as he reportedly used his security access card to open the rear door and release the illegal alien.
Medina-Perez, after leaving through the back door, reportedly climbed over a fence to get away.
He was arrested a month later and his deportation case is pending.
DOJ review. A January 2018 oversight hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee revealed that former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen had inquired about the possibility of arresting officials and lawmakers involved in implementing sanctuary city policies.
Acting ICE Director Tom Homan had asked DOJ to “look into criminal charges for elected officials with sanctuary policies as they are harboring illegal aliens.”
Nielsen explained that protecting illegals puts “ICE officers at risk” — but also prevents them from “finding an efficient and effective way to enforce our immigration laws.”
While this case didn’t involve city officials, it’s important to note that Newton, Massachusetts, is a sanctuary city.
Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said this case had nothing to do with immigration policy but had everything to do with following the law.
Aren’t they one and the same?
“From certain corners I have heard the occasional gasp of dismay or outrage at the notion of holding a judge accountable for violating federal law,” Lelling said.
“But if the law is not applied equally, it cannot credibly be applied to anyone.”
This piece originally appeared in The Political Insider and is used by permission.
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