Federal grand jury reportedly investigating Newton, Mass judge who helped an illegal evade deportation

A valuable lesson for state and local officials in progressive jurisdictions who have been thumbing their noses at federal immigration law may be coming in Boston.  The Boston Globe has learned from five different sources that a federal grand jury is Boston is investigating Judge Shelly M. Joseph of Newton (a very, very liberal mostly affluent suburb) for allegedly helping an illegal alien, accused of a crime in her court, evade capture by an ICE agent waiting outside her courtroom.


Newton District Courthouse (state of Masachusetts photo).

The Globe obtained a recording of this:

Minutes into the Newton District Court hearing for Jose Medina-Perez, his defense attorney asked the judge if he could approach the bench for a quick chat.

There, in hushed tones and whispers, the attorney walked through his client's predicament with District Judge Shelley M. Joseph and a state prosecutor.  They debated what to do with the defendant, who was in immediate danger of being deported.

Medina-Perez, picked up by Newton police on drug charges, faced a fugitive warrant for drunken driving in Pennsylvania and a detainer from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to a courtroom audio recording of the bench conference.  In fact, an ICE agent was in the courthouse, waiting to detain Perez and start the deportation process.

"ICE is going to get him," the judge told the attorneys during the April 2 sidebar conversation.  "What if we continue [the case]?" she suggested, before instructing a clerk to turn off the courtroom's audio recorder.  Whatever was said during the next 58 seconds went unrecorded.

Minutes later, Medina-Perez was escorted downstairs, released from custody, and allowed out a back door, according to two people briefed on the episode.  He scaled a fence and took off, leaving the immigration agent behind, the people said.

The act of turning off the recording may be Judge Joseph's undoing, revealing a conscious attempt to obstruct justice.  That, presumably, is what the grand jury is considering.

Former US attorney Michael J. Sullivan said it would be "shocking" – and possibly obstructing justice – if any court official helped a defendant flee from federal authorities.

"There is a big difference between doing nothing and taking affirmative steps to prevent some authority from exercising its rights," he said.

Heavy.com specifies the Massachusetts legal issues for a judge in a sanctuary city like Newton:

Judge Shelley Joseph was not obligated to help the ICE agent detain Jose Medina-Perez.  But by denying him access to the lock-up area, she may have hindered the agent's efforts.  According to Massachusetts Trial Court guidelines, judges and other court staffers are prohibited from interfering when a federal official makes an arrest.

Bob Price of Breitbart reports on the reaction from ICE:

ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Field Office Director Todd Lyons would not comment specifically about the investigation.  In a written statement provided to Breitbart News, ERO Director Lyons said, "It would be gravely concerning to us, as well as disrespectful to the men and women of ICE who put themselves in harms' [sic] way to protect our communities, if anyone, especially a representative of a court, were alleged to have taken deliberate actions to aid an immigration fugitive in evading the law."

Judge Joseph has been on the bench for a year and was appointed by Republican Governor Charlie Baker.  Heavy.com reports on her background:

Shelley M. Richmond Joseph was appointed to the bench in September of 2017.  She previously worked alongside her husband, Scott Joseph at a law firm they founded together in 2003 called Joseph & Joseph.  According to her official bio on Mass.gov, she specialized in "criminal defense, hearings before the registry of motor vehicles, and restraining orders."

Joseph does have prior experience as a prosecutor as well.  She worked as an Assistant District Attorney at the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office in the Boston area during the 1990s. She also served as an Assistant Attorney General from 1993 through 2000.

Joseph earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Boston College with a concentration in Spanish.  She earned her law degree from the New England School of Law.

Here is a tweet from 2015, when Judge Joseph was a partner in a criminal defense law firm with her husband:

A state judge facing a federal criminal action would be huge matter and would draw the attention of officials across the country to their own potential liability in actively hampering federal immigration officials in their duties.  Merely being indicted would focus their minds.  A conviction and possible incarceration of a judge will be a shock to the system, if it happens, and might well change more than a few minds about the wisdom of obstructing the enforcement of immigration laws they disagree with.

A valuable lesson for state and local officials in progressive jurisdictions who have been thumbing their noses at federal immigration law may be coming in Boston.  The Boston Globe has learned from five different sources that a federal grand jury is Boston is investigating Judge Shelly M. Joseph of Newton (a very, very liberal mostly affluent suburb) for allegedly helping an illegal alien, accused of a crime in her court, evade capture by an ICE agent waiting outside her courtroom.


Newton District Courthouse (state of Masachusetts photo).

The Globe obtained a recording of this:

Minutes into the Newton District Court hearing for Jose Medina-Perez, his defense attorney asked the judge if he could approach the bench for a quick chat.

There, in hushed tones and whispers, the attorney walked through his client's predicament with District Judge Shelley M. Joseph and a state prosecutor.  They debated what to do with the defendant, who was in immediate danger of being deported.

Medina-Perez, picked up by Newton police on drug charges, faced a fugitive warrant for drunken driving in Pennsylvania and a detainer from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to a courtroom audio recording of the bench conference.  In fact, an ICE agent was in the courthouse, waiting to detain Perez and start the deportation process.

"ICE is going to get him," the judge told the attorneys during the April 2 sidebar conversation.  "What if we continue [the case]?" she suggested, before instructing a clerk to turn off the courtroom's audio recorder.  Whatever was said during the next 58 seconds went unrecorded.

Minutes later, Medina-Perez was escorted downstairs, released from custody, and allowed out a back door, according to two people briefed on the episode.  He scaled a fence and took off, leaving the immigration agent behind, the people said.

The act of turning off the recording may be Judge Joseph's undoing, revealing a conscious attempt to obstruct justice.  That, presumably, is what the grand jury is considering.

Former US attorney Michael J. Sullivan said it would be "shocking" – and possibly obstructing justice – if any court official helped a defendant flee from federal authorities.

"There is a big difference between doing nothing and taking affirmative steps to prevent some authority from exercising its rights," he said.

Heavy.com specifies the Massachusetts legal issues for a judge in a sanctuary city like Newton:

Judge Shelley Joseph was not obligated to help the ICE agent detain Jose Medina-Perez.  But by denying him access to the lock-up area, she may have hindered the agent's efforts.  According to Massachusetts Trial Court guidelines, judges and other court staffers are prohibited from interfering when a federal official makes an arrest.

Bob Price of Breitbart reports on the reaction from ICE:

ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Field Office Director Todd Lyons would not comment specifically about the investigation.  In a written statement provided to Breitbart News, ERO Director Lyons said, "It would be gravely concerning to us, as well as disrespectful to the men and women of ICE who put themselves in harms' [sic] way to protect our communities, if anyone, especially a representative of a court, were alleged to have taken deliberate actions to aid an immigration fugitive in evading the law."

Judge Joseph has been on the bench for a year and was appointed by Republican Governor Charlie Baker.  Heavy.com reports on her background:

Shelley M. Richmond Joseph was appointed to the bench in September of 2017.  She previously worked alongside her husband, Scott Joseph at a law firm they founded together in 2003 called Joseph & Joseph.  According to her official bio on Mass.gov, she specialized in "criminal defense, hearings before the registry of motor vehicles, and restraining orders."

Joseph does have prior experience as a prosecutor as well.  She worked as an Assistant District Attorney at the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office in the Boston area during the 1990s. She also served as an Assistant Attorney General from 1993 through 2000.

Joseph earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Boston College with a concentration in Spanish.  She earned her law degree from the New England School of Law.

Here is a tweet from 2015, when Judge Joseph was a partner in a criminal defense law firm with her husband:

A state judge facing a federal criminal action would be huge matter and would draw the attention of officials across the country to their own potential liability in actively hampering federal immigration officials in their duties.  Merely being indicted would focus their minds.  A conviction and possible incarceration of a judge will be a shock to the system, if it happens, and might well change more than a few minds about the wisdom of obstructing the enforcement of immigration laws they disagree with.