Judge Joseph loses bid to toss charges against her
Immunity claim not addressed; case going to trial
SUSPENDED NEWTON District Court Judge Shelley Richmond Joseph and retired court officer Wesley MacGregor will face trial on charges of conspiracy and obstruction of justice after US District Court Judge Leo Sorokin denied their motions to dismiss the charges, according to a court filing.
The judge said in his order that the trial could proceed “because the indictment complies with the governing legal standard.” He dismissed their constitutional challenges. The trial date has not been set.
Joseph and MacGregor are accused of allowing Jose Medina-Perez, who was in the country illegally, to escape out the back door of the Newton District Court when it was made known a plainclothes ICE agent was present in the courthouse 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.
Sorokin made no determination on Joseph’s claim of judicial immunity, saying “it is not within this Court’s province on a motion to dismiss to determine whether judicial immunity, even if its reach encompasses criminal liability, provides a viable shelter for Joseph in the circumstances alleged here.”
In his complaint against Joseph, Lelling said federal officials cannot pick and choose the federal laws they follow or use their personal views to justify violating the law. “The allegations in today’s indictment involve obstruction by a sitting judge, that is intentional interference with the enforcement of federal law, and that is a crime,” the complaint said.
In April, Joseph insisted on a search of federal records for political bias, arguing Lelling’s actions reflected the anti-immigrant attitudes of Trump.
Thomas Hoopes, Joseph’s attorney, alleged that Lelling made a number of statements showing bias in the previous year and engaged in “improper government leaks” to the Boston Globe to harm his client.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.
She turned down a plea offer last May from Lelling‘s office that would have allowed her to avoid prosecution and potentially allow her to remain on the bench.