Judge Shelley Richmond Joseph of Newton, Massachusetts, was arrested for having allegedly conspired with several others to allow an illegal alien to escape from her courtroom, effectively preventing ICE agents from arresting him.
After hearing the case of criminal illegal alien, Jose Medina-Perez, Joseph sent a court clerk out in the hallway to ask ICE agents to wait outside, which created a diversion. She then ordered another court clerk to turn off her recorder, consulted with the defendant’s attorneys, then had a retired court officer open the back door with his security badge. Medina-Perez was able to leave the court house, evading the ICE agents waiting outside.
Joseph has been suspended with pay and charged with obstruction of justice. U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling offered Joseph a plea deal whereby she would avoid criminal prosecution if she admitted her improper behavior and managed to stay out of trouble. The plea deal would have helped Joseph avoid prosecution and potential salvage her law career. The plea involved a “deferred prosecution agreement” which would have prevented her indictment and dropped the obstruction of justice charges, as long as she didn’t repeat the offense for one year.
Judge Joseph chose not to take the deal. Her attorneys relayed that Joseph had “pleaded not guilty because she is not guilty.” Legal experts believe she refused the deal because, had she taken it, she would have been forced to make a public confession of a felony, which would have ended her career.
Joseph now awaits a jury trial. If found guilty, she could face up to 20 years in prison and the loss of her career.
Image Credit: Steven Senne/AP