Massachusetts District Court Judge Shelley Joseph is under investigation after she was accused of helping an undocumented immigrant, Jose Medina-Perez, evade an ICE officer at the courthouse. The Boston Globe is reporting that a federal grand jury is investigating Joseph and some have called for her to be barred from handling criminal cases in the interim.
Medina-Perez was arrested by Newton police on drug charges and faced a fugitive warrant for drunken driving in Pennsylvania and a detainer from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE was at the courthouse to execute the detainer and the defense counsel David Jellinek is heard on an audiotape saying “ICE will pick him up if he walks out the front door.” Joseph reportedly told his counsel “ICE is going to get him.” She then suggested “What if we continue [the case]?” and then instructed a clerk to turn off the courtroom’s audio recorder.
All such proceeding must be recorded and the order to turn off the recorder is not just a violation of that rule but shows a level of premeditation on her part to assist in the effort to evade ICE. Medina-Perez left through a back door, “scaled a fence and took off, leaving the immigration agent behind.”
Baker nominated Joseph in 2017. A criminal defense lawyer who specialized in Registry of Motor Vehicle hearings and restraining orders, she also worked as an assistant attorney general from 1993 to 2000.
Joseph actively assisted in the evasion of ICE and her action can be viewed as obstruction of justice. At a minimum, her actions appear to violate core judicial ethical principles.
Joseph was appointed to the bench in 2017. After a stint as a prosecutor, she worked her husband, Scott Joseph at their law firm Joseph & Joseph. She specialized in “criminal defense, hearings before the registry of motor vehicles, and restraining orders.” She has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Boston College with a concentration in Spanish and a law degree from the New England School of Law.