US judge charged for aiding ‘illegal’ immigrant flee

US judge charged for aiding ‘illegal’ immigrant flee

A MA judge was indicted Thursday on charges that she helped a man who was living in the US illegally sneak out a back door of the courthouse to evade a waiting immigration enforcement agent.

The case marks a stunning development in the stand-off between many state judges frustrated at federal immigration agents' heightened presence in the courthouses, and President Donald Trump's insistence that nearly any undocumented person is eligible to be arrested nearly anywhere.

Jim Hayes made the comments Friday on "Fox & Friends" a day after Newton District Court Judge Shelley M. Richmond Joseph and court officer Wesley MacGregor were indicted by a federal grand jury for obstruction of justice and three other counts.

The American Civil Liberties Union also was critical of the decision, saying in a statement the charges are a result of President Trump's "anti-immigrant agenda".

United States Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling announced details of the case Thursday afternoon. "But if the law is not applied equally it can not credibly be applied to anyone".

"Everyone in the justice system - not just judges, but law enforcement officers, prosecutors and defense counsel - should be held to a higher standard", Lelling said.

A MA judge was accused Thursday of helping an undocumented immigrant escape an ICE agent.

"The Clerk informed the ICE Officer that, in the event of A.S.'s release, A.S. would be released out of the Courtroom into the. lobby", the indictment says.

Immigration officials have said communities are forcing their hand by refusing to transfer immigrants in local prisons and jails to ICE custody.

"The judge and the defense attorney then conspired to have A.S. released out the back door of the courthouse", Lelling said.

Joseph responded. "ICE is gonna get him?". Judge Joseph confirmed later.

The Massachusetts judge and the officer allegedly allowed the man to exit through a courthouse back door while an immigration officer waited outside to arrest him, the BBC reported.

Newton police arrested the immigrant past year on a fugitive warrant for drunk driving in Pennsylvania and narcotics possession, the indictment said.

A courtroom tape recorder caught much of the conversation between Joseph, MacGregor and the migrant's attorney.

"Defendant Joseph falsely attributed unfamiliarity with the Courtroom recording equipment", according to the indictment.

Joseph ordered Medina-Perez released and speaking about the ICE officer says "I'm not gonna allow them to come in here", according to the transcript. There, per the indictment, MacGregor opened the courthouse's backdoor. He was arrested later in April.

"I think that the judge certainly faces the criminal charges that are pending".

The Trump administration has resisted calls to add courthouses to the list of so-called "sensitive locations" that are generally free from immigration enforcement, like schools and places of worship.

That morning, a plainclothes ICE officer was dispatched to the courthouse to take custody of Medina-Perez after the defendant's release.

"The actions of the judge in this incident are a detriment to the rule of law and highly offensive to the law enforcement officers of ICE who swear an oath to uphold our nation's immigration laws", said Todd M. Lyons, the acting director of ICE's deportation operations in Boston. "Affidavits detail persons "terrified" to request orders protecting them from violence or enforcing child support, to serve as witnesses, and to defend themselves".

But until the case can be resolved, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has opted to err on the side of caution and suspend Joseph without pay.

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