A District Court Judge in Massachusetts was indicted on obstruction after failing to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents last April. According to U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling, “The allegations in today’s indictment involve obstruction by a sitting judge, that is intentional interference with the enforcement of federal law, and that is a crime. We cannot pick and choose the federal laws we follow, or use our personal views to justify violating the law.”
Judge Shelley M. Richmond Joseph was charged following an incident in her courtroom during proceedings involving an undocumented immigrant. According to reports, Judge Joseph was made aware that plainclothes ICE agents were waiting to apprehend the suspect appearing before her, who had previously been deported twice. The suspect in that case hasn’t been publicly identified.
Court reporting quotes Judge Joseph as saying, “That’s fine. I’m not gonna allow them to come in here. But he’s been released on this.” The judge was asked again if the suspect was free to go and she responded in the affirmative. Judge Joseph allowed for the suspect, his defense attorney, and interpreter to exit the courtroom using alternative means to evade awaiting ICE agents. The defense attorney is also named as a defendant in the indictment.
Judge Joseph is also accused of recalling the suspect upon learning of ICE agents waiting to apprehend him. “ICE is gonna get him?” she asked the suspect’s defense attorney before taking action to prevent ICE from taking suspect into custody. Clashes between local law enforcement and ICE have been ongoing since the Trump administration began sweeping no-tolerance deportation operations in the United States.