After a Massachusetts judge and court officer helped a twice-deported criminal illegal alien escape custody, Bay State prosecutors are suing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to block ICE arrests at local courthouses.
“ICE’s policy is undermining the work of the justice system as a whole,” Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said with apparent unintended irony.
Judge Shelley Joseph and court officer Wesley MacGregor were indicted on federal obstruction of justice charges for releasing a Dominican migrant last year. The man, identified only as A.S., was allowed to dash out of a rear entrance at the state courthouse in the sanctuary city of Newton after an ICE agent identified himself to the judge and other court personnel.
The New York Times called it “a dramatic turn in the long-running clash between the Trump administration and state governments that have resisted its hard-line approach to immigration.”
Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr was more blunt.
“PC bottom feeders claim Joseph was well within her rights to obstruct justice to free an illegal immigrant drug dealer/drunken driver. If Judge Joseph really believed she was operating within the law, why did she order the courtroom tape recorder turned off before she cut [him]loose?” Carr wrote.
The federal indictment said the escape plan was hatched after the suspect’s lawyer told Judge Joseph he thought the ICE officer in the courthouse was targeting the wrong person. “ICE is going to pick him up if he walks out the front door,” the attorney said during a sidebar that was recorded.
Joseph responded: “ICE is gonna get him? What if we detain him?”
The judge then directed that the courtroom recorder be turned off as the conversation continued. The recorder was turned back on 52 seconds later, at which point the prosecutor agreed with the defense lawyer that there seemed to be a case of mistaken identity.
In the face of such shenanigans, Judge Joseph’s defenders contend that ICE’s presence in courthouses is the real problem. “Prosecutors are forced to abandon cases because many victims and witnesses are deterred from appearing in court,” says Ryan, the Middlesex DA. “The policy also makes it more difficult to obtain defendants’ appearance in court.”
As a matter of constitutional law, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ interest in prosecuting crimes is subordinate to federal immigration laws. A sitting judge with a law degree, a bar certificate and a professional obligation to mete out justice should have been well aware of that fact.
The claim of mistaken identity appears to have been conjured up by the defense attorney; a national law enforcement database matched the fingerprints of “A.S.” with an individual deported from the United States in 2003 and 2007, and banned from the country until 2027.
Carr also noted that “A.S.” used at least 13 different identities. “Is identity theft now a crime only when committed by Americans?” he mused.
While “A.S.” remains at large thanks to Joseph’s miscarriage of justice, Her Honor pleaded not guilty and was suspended without pay last week. If convicted, she could face up to 25 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
On hearing of the indictment, conservative pundit Michelle Malkin said it’s high time sanctuary-style judges and jurisdictions are called to account. “More and faster, please,” she tweeted. It would also appear to be time to start appointing judges who are actually capable of exercising good judgment.