Judge’s attorney accuses Lelling of political bias
Cites comments, op-eds, newspaper leaks
THE ATTORNEY REPRESENTING a judge charged with helping an undocumented immigrant evade federal immigration officials at her court is accusing US Attorney Andrew Lelling of political bias through his public statements, his leaking of confidential material to the news media, and his granting of immunity to a key witness.
Thomas Hoopes, the attorney for suspended Newton District Court Judge Shelley Joseph, sent a 12-page letter on Tuesday to Lelling asking him to turn over all evidence of his and the federal government’s political bias.
Joseph is accused of allowing Jose Medina-Perez, who was in the country illegally, escape out the back door of her courthouse when it was made known a plainclothes Immigration and Customers Enforcement agent was at the Newton District Court to detain him. Medina-Perez faced deportation following drug charges in Newton and a drunk driving charge in Pennsylvania. He was apprehended by ICE following his escape in 2018.
Joseph was initially suspended without pay in April 2019 after her indictment, but her $184,000-a-year salary was restored in August by the Supreme Judicial Court.
Hoopes also claims that the defense attorney for the unauthorized immigrant was offered “complete immunity” from prosecution “contingent on his retelling of the same fictitious story” at trial that he told to a grand jury.
Hoopes and Lelling’s office both declined to comment on Wednesday.
As an example of Lelling’s bias, Hoopes pointed to a February 10 Boston Herald op-ed in which Lelling criticized sanctuary cities but did not mention the Joseph case. He did mention a case in which another Newton district court judge granted bail to an undocumented immigrant accused of raping a Boston College student while working as an Uber driver. The immigrant subsequently fled the country.
“Why the United States attorney wrote a political op-ed piece at all in his position as a supposedly unbiased law enforcement officer of the US is unclear,” Hoopes wrote.
Hoopes also alleged that officials with the US Attorney’s office illegally leaked confidential information to the Boston Globe. The story in question, written on December 1, 2018, by Andrea Estes and Maria Cramer, cited “five people with direct knowledge” that a grand jury was investigating whether Joseph broke the law in helping Medina-Perez and that several court employees had been called to testify.Joseph turned down a plea offer last May from US Attorney Andrew Lelling‘s office that would have avoided prosecution and potentially allow her to remain on the bench.
She faces criminal charges on counts of conspiracy to obstruct justice, aiding and abetting obstruction of justice, and aiding and abetting obstruction of a federal proceeding.