Judging the judge

What should happen with Newton District Court Judge Shelley Joseph, who is apparently the focus of a federal grand jury considering whether she improperly aided a defendant in eluding federal immigration officials?

The Boston Globe has a thing or, it turns out, two to say about it all.

An editorial in today’s paper urges the chief justice of the state’s Trial Court, Paula Carey, to remove Joseph from hearing any criminal cases while the issue is sorted out. “For the sake of the orderly administration of justice, she ought to exercise that authority immediately,” the paper says of Carey.

The editorial comes a day after Gov. Charlie Baker made just such a call. “I don’t believe she should be hearing criminal cases until that federal case is resolved,” Baker said on Monday. “Look, judges are not supposed to be in the business of obstructing justice.”

As far as Globe columnist Adrian Walker is concerned, however, the governor — and his paper’s editorial board — have it all wrong. Walker weighs in today slamming Baker for being willing to “kick due process to the curb.” He faults the governor for playing judge and jury in a matter that’s being handled through proper legal channels. “Who needs a grand jury when we have Baker?” he asks sarcastically.

The case revolves around whether Joseph and other court officials helped a defendant facing drug charges, who had already twice been deported from the country, exit out a backdoor of the Newton courthouse and evade federal immigration officials who were there to take him into custody if released by the judge.

The tale comes complete with a Watergate-style gap in the courtroom recording system, which was turned off for 58 seconds at a pivotal point in a hushed-tone sidebar conference Joseph held with the prosecutor and defense lawyer for Jose Medina-Perez.

The case highlights the growing tensions between state courts and municipal governments and federal immigration authorities. State judges have been wary of allowing immigration officials into their courts, in part because of fears that their presence will undercut justice by scaring undocumented victims and witnesses away from court proceedings.

The Trial Court has settled on a policy stating that judges and court personnel should “neither help nor hinder federal agents,” the Globe editorial says. “If Joseph schemed with Medina-Perez’s lawyer to help him avoid ICE, that sounds a lot like hindering.”

Ordering the court audio recorder turned off, as Joseph appeared to do, is also a violation of Trial Court rules.

While Walker faults Baker for stepping into the issue, the Globe editorial sees nothing wrong with him speaking out, saying “he does have the bully pulpit necessary to make the judicial branch at least think about removing Joseph from criminal sessions in the district court.”

If broader tensions over immigration policy form the backdrop here, important context for Baker’s pointed reaction to the case is the fact that he named Joseph to the bench last year. While the main focus now is on her judgment, he knows his could also come under scrutiny.

–MICHAEL JONAS


BEACON HILL

National Grid takes a pounding on Beacon Hill for locking out 1,250 workers in a contract dispute and using health insurance as leverage. (CommonWealth)

Former state senator Brian Joyce died of an overdose, the state medical examiner’s office says. (CommonWealth)

Governor Charlie Baker’s public safety secretary, Daniel Bennett, is leaving, the first cabinet member to exit following the governor’s reelection to a second term. (Boston Globe) He is being replaced by Thomas Turco, the commissioner of the Department of Correction. (State House News)

Departing reps give their farewell speeches, and many praise House Speaker Robert DeLeo. (State House News)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

City councilors slam the Walsh administration for its slow movement in working to ensure that minority applicants have a shot at marijuana licenses in Boston. (Boston Globe)

The Springfield City Council votes itself a 51 percent pay raise. (MassLive)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

After a briefing from CIA officials, a bipartisan group of senators say they are more convinced than ever of Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman‘s involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. President Trump has insisted it’s unclear whether the Saudi leader was involved. (New York Times)

Prosecutors say former White House national security advisor Michael Flynn has provided “substantial” information following his guilty plea to charges of lying to federal investigators and should receive little or no prison time. (New York Times)

ELECTIONS

Former governor Deval Patrick plans to announce that he won’t run for president in 2020. (Politico)

Gov. Charlie Baker is so far not saying anything about a preferred candidate to take the reins as chair of the Massachusetts Republican Party. (Boston Herald)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Business groups are stepping up to oppose an ordinance proposed by Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu to require employers contracting with the city to provide their workers with at least two weeks notice of any change in their hours. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell urges state officials not to renew the charter of the City on a Hill charter school. (Standard-Times)

The search for a new superintendent in Hingham has been narrowed to four finalists. (Patriot Ledger)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Boston City Council President Andrea Campbell said new approaches are needed to deal with gang violence after a 19-year-old was shot and killed nearby last week during the middle of a meeting she convened in a Dorchester community hall to address public safety issues. (Boston Herald)

Federal prosecutors made their case to a three-judge appeals court panel yesterday to reinstate corruption charges against two City Hall aides to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. (Boston Herald)

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh defends incoming Suffolk DA Rachael Rollins after a member of her transition team posted a Facebook message about wanting prosecutors in the office to redefine how they think of “gangsters.” (Boston Herald)

Mark Berthiaume has withdrawn as part of Fall River mayor Jasiel Correia’s defense team. Well-known defense attorney Kevin Reddington remains on the case as Correia’s faces federal corruption charges. (Herald News)

MEDIA

Boston Herald editor Joe Sciacca will now oversee seven daily newspapers owned by Digital First Media, including the Lowell Sun, Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise, and four papers in upstate New York. (Lowell Sun)