Massachusetts Judge Charged for Assisting Undocumented Immigrants

The Supreme Court reversed their decision Tuesday to indite a Massachusetts attorney for allegedly helping an undocumented immigrant evade arrest.

What We Know:

  • Judge Shelley Joseph and court officer Wesley MacGregor were accused of obstructing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and indicted on counts of conspiracy, aiding and abetting and obstruction of a federal proceeding in April; MacGregor was also charged with perjury for lying to the grand jury. Joseph was suspended without pay by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, “based solely on the fact that a sitting judge has been inducted for alleged misconduct in the performance of her judicial duties.”
  • Joseph will now receive pay thanks to a decision made Tuesday by the state’s Supreme Judicial Court. She will not, however, return to work in an administrative position as requested while her suspension pends. The decision came in response to Joseph’s motion to be reinstated and compensated for the time she has missed during the suspension.
  • Jose Medina-Perez, an undocumented immigrant from the Dominican Republic, faced drug charges after having been deported twice in 2003 and 2007; He was not meant to enter the United States until 2027. He was picked up in the US in April and appeared in court before Joseph; ICE agents attended the court hearing waiting to pick up Medina-Perez. Joseph allegedly helped Medina-Perez to exit through a back door and successfully avoid the agents, a decision she allegedly made after she asked to stop sound recording the courtroom.
  • The indictment sparked frustration on both sides; Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey felt it was a “radical and politically-motivated attack on our state and the independence of our courts.” Many believe the case will contribute to the fear immigrants experience when facing ICE; Cambridge immigration attorney Susan Church said it’s already a struggle to have witnesses come to court for immigrants facing ICE, which can even obstruct peoples’ divorces and minor court proceedings.

Joseph’s indictment has not yet been adjudicated; this adjustment to her suspension does not mean the courts uphold her innocence.