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Federal Court: No Judicial Immunity for Massachusetts Judge Charged With Helping Illegal Alien Evade ICE

Federal Court: No Judicial Immunity for Massachusetts Judge Charged With Helping Illegal Alien Evade ICE

“Partisan politics aside, this case revolves around one principle: Is someone charged with upholding the law above the law, leaving that person immune from any punishment, even for conduct judged to be illegal?”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YElwm4qwqNQ&t=19s

Last year, Kemberlee wrote about a Massachusetts judge, Shelley Joseph, who was indicted for helping an illegal alien evade ICE.  A federal judge has rejected Joseph’s defense team’s motion to dismiss based on Joseph’s judicial immunity, bringing Joseph one step closer to a federal trial.

Joseph faces obstruction of justice and conspiracy charges for her role in the alleged escape.  No trial date has been set.

NBC News reported at the time of the indictment:

A Massachusetts judge conspired with a court officer to help a twice-deported undocumented immigrant slip out a back exit of a courthouse and elude arrest by immigration authorities, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday.

Judge Shelley Joseph and court officer Wesley MacGregor were hit with federal obstruction of justice charges for allegedly aiding the defendant, who was arrested in March 2018 on charges of drug possession and being a fugitive from justice, according to an indictment by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston.

The man, identified as A.S., was allowed to dash out of a rear sally port entrance at the state courthouse in Newton, Massachusetts, on April 2, 2018, after a plainclothes immigration enforcement agent identified himself to the judge and other courtroom personnel, federal prosecutors said.

Joseph’s defense team argued that even if the charges are true, and they claim she had no knowledge of the plan, she is above the law due to judges having judicial immunity for acts “taken in their judicial role.”  A federal judge disagreed.

The AP reports:

The case against a Massachusetts state court judge accused of helping a man who was living in the U.S. illegally sneak out of the courthouse to evade an immigration enforcement agent can move toward trial, a federal judge ruled Monday.

U.S. District Judge Leo Sorokin rejected Newton District Court Judge Shelley Joseph’s bid to dismiss the obstruction of justice and conspiracy charges against her. No trial date has been set.

An attorney for Joseph, Thomas Hoopes, declined to comment.

. . . .  Joseph’s lawyers have blasted prosecutors for what the defense has called an “extraordinary sweetheart deal granting complete immunity” to the immigrant’s defense attorney, who they say was the “architect and ringleader” of the man’s escape plan.

Her lawyers say Joseph had no idea about the plan, but they argue that even if the allegations were true, judicial immunity shields judges from liability for acts acts “taken in their judicial role.”

The Boston Herald has more:

In a previous court filing, the government disputes the legal standing of “judicial immunity” in allowing Joseph complete control of her courtroom.

“The government does not dispute that a judge sitting in Newton District Court engages in a judicial act when she orders a criminal defendant to be released from court custody,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Wichers wrote.

“Effecting the release — removing handcuffs, returning property, opening the door, etc. — is not a judicial act.”

Joseph’s actions during the time of the incident raised the feds’ suspicions. Before Jose Medina-Perez escaped, the judge, in a sidebar conversation, instructed an assistant clerk to turn off the court’s recording machine. What followed was a 52-second gap during which prosecutors allege, the judge agreed to let the defendant slip out the door.

. . . . Partisan politics aside, this case revolves around one principle: Is someone charged with upholding the law above the law, leaving that person immune from any punishment, even for conduct judged to be illegal?

Despite thinking she was above the law, the judge may have to play by the same rule as others when it comes to immigration law.

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Comments

Wasn’t this storyline a script for CBS TV show “Bull” ?

In the TV episode, the judge was unable to get out of it, but the sentencing judge had merry on the offending judge.

2smartforlibs | August 4, 2020 at 10:09 am

You might think a judge would know TITLE 8

Given she took on oath to uphold the law and the constitution, she should be held to stricter standards.

“…she is above the law due to judges having judicial immunity for acts “taken in their judicial role.””

So if she shot the prosecuting attorney instead, she would be claiming immunity since the act of murder was “taken in her judicial role.” Or maybe that’s a typo and should read “robe”.

Whatever, I better write this down so I don’t forget.

    I was thinking the same thing. “Wait, so, murder would be okay if court was in session? Because she’s a judge and can do whatever she wants?”

    Milhouse in reply to Pasadena Phil. | August 4, 2020 at 11:24 am

    No, shooting someone is not a judicial act. Spuriously sentencing him to death for contempt would be a judicial act, and she would indeed have absolute immunity for it. She’d be removed from office but could not be charged or sued.

    As the government argued here, ordering the prisoner released was indeed a judicial act for which she is absolutely immune, so it’s not charging her for that; but the rest of it was not a judicial act, so her immunity doesn’t cover it.

      Olinser in reply to Milhouse. | August 4, 2020 at 8:23 pm

      She is a STATE judge, and has absolutely ZERO judicial authority to order somebody released from FEDERAL custody.

      Which is exactly why she let him sneak out the back in the first place, she knew she had no justification or authority to prevent his arrest.

        Milhouse in reply to Olinser. | August 5, 2020 at 11:39 am

        She didn’t order him released from federal custody. He was never in federal custody. He was in state custody, and when she ordered him released that was a judicial act, covered by her absolute immunity, so she cannot be charged for that. The government’s position, which the court accepted, is that only this act is covered. Everything else she did was not a judicial act, and therefore not covered, which is why she is facing charges.

I want to be fair to the Judge and the Vpcourt Officer. 10 years in a high security prison would be fair. If this Juge gets probation, there is no justice.

    Lucifer Morningstar in reply to Jackie. | August 4, 2020 at 11:05 am

    How about removal from office in disgrace and ten years in federal high security prison for the judge. And ten for the court officer. And ten for the defense lawyer that allowed his client to run out the back “sally port” door. Make an example of all of them and perhaps they’ll all be more careful in the future when allowing people to escape custody.

      She’s entitled to reapply / run again for her job as a local judge there after release. She can campaign on what she did and let the voters decide.

      If we’re so far gone that she’d be elected, we’ll have worse problems than that.

        Formerly known as Skeptic in reply to artichoke. | August 4, 2020 at 1:22 pm

        “If we’re so far gone that she’d be elected, we’ll have worse problems than that.”

        Are you familiar with Massachusetts?

      From the article, it appears that the illegal alien’s lawyer made himself a deal with prosecutors (a deal which probably involves testifying against the judge), that lets him off the hook:

      “[the judge’s] lawyers have blasted prosecutors for what the defense has called an “extraordinary sweetheart deal granting complete immunity” to the immigrant’s defense attorney, who they say was the “architect and ringleader” of the man’s escape plan.”

        Dennis in reply to Observer. | August 4, 2020 at 2:13 pm

        Well, a judge doing bad stuff is a little more serious than a lawyer doing bad stuff, wouldn’t you say?

          Observer in reply to Dennis. | August 4, 2020 at 3:29 pm

          Ethically speaking, not really. Lawyers and judges are both officers of the court, and both have the same ethical (as well as legal) obligation to obey the law and to do nothing that causes the public to disrespect the legal profession. Both the lawyer and the judge violated their ethical obligations here.

          Dennis in reply to Dennis. | August 4, 2020 at 6:36 pm

          “Both the lawyer and the judge violated their ethical obligations here.”

          Sure, but a judge has more power than a defense attorney, so a crooked judge is a bigger deal than a crooked defense attorney.

          Katy L. Stamper in reply to Dennis. | August 4, 2020 at 6:55 pm

          Re: Observer

          The oft-repeated mantra that lawyers are “officers of the court” is a mistaken understanding of the origin and the law.

          I’m not going to write a brief here. Suffice to say, in England from whence this term came, the barristers and lawyers have different duties and DIFFERENT PRIVILEGES, that American lawyers have never and will never have. Such as immunity from military service.

          Milhouse in reply to Dennis. | August 5, 2020 at 11:45 am

          When were UK barristers ever exempt from conscription? I don’t think that was ever the case.

    As a non-lawyer, I don’t see any wriggle-room for the judge to avoid being convicted and sentenced to jail, after a long, painful trial (during which she still collects her paycheck) and appeal (where I believe she would be jobless)

    However, I can see the prosecution offering her a plea deal: Five years probation and you resign your judgeship. Paying for a lawyer will run her far more than her annual salary per year, and she not only did what the prosecution alleges, but admitted to it proudly, so that would get her out from under the possibility of jail time and out of a job, but there’s always politics in her future, I suppose. Or law school.

      beagleEar in reply to georgfelis. | August 5, 2020 at 3:20 am

      That deal would be a total betrayal of the public.
      I can see another deal:
      A: 10 years in prison, randomly assigned to M, F, or T sections at each transfer. Oh, did I mention she gets transferred around? Judges need to became familiar with the system 😉
      B: In choice B, her name photo and residence address are made public, with the announcement that anyone charged with any crime against her is to be let out the courthouse back door, with no re-arrest. As a felon, she also loses all 2A rights.
      Either A or B will provide a valuable lesson and example. A plea bargain does neither.

    Connivin Caniff in reply to Jackie. | August 4, 2020 at 12:52 pm

    You’re dreaming if you don’t think one or more Massachusetts D’Rat jurors won’t do a little juror nullification on her behalf. She won’t get convicted.

buckeyeminuteman | August 4, 2020 at 10:57 am

Put her in prison for a couple years. Let everybody know that nobody is above the law, even activist judges and prosecutors.

Most Dhimmi-crat judges are at least smart enough to cloak their ideological radicalism in the thin veneer of a pretense of alleged legal grounding (however flimsy); not this dope. This twit’s only mistake was in acting out her ideological fantasies, instead of committing them to paper, in the form of an opinion, in a case.

Lucifer Morningstar | August 4, 2020 at 11:15 am

Joseph’s actions during the time of the incident raised the feds’ suspicions. Before Jose Medina-Perez escaped, the judge, in a sidebar conversation, instructed an assistant clerk to turn off the court’s recording machine. What followed was a 52-second gap during which prosecutors allege, the judge agreed to let the defendant slip out the door.

That alone, turning off the court’s official recording machine, should be enough to get this judge removed from office in disgrace and charged with tampering with official court records and placed in prison for a term of years. And “judicial immunity” be damned.

Also, read the Boston Herald editorial — this twit is on paid leave while this farce plays out, being paid a cool $184,000, annually, for her trouble.

    Innocent until proven guilty. That’s an easy one.
    Removing her from the bench until the trial is over, also easy.

    My question is *if* she is convicted (and the inevitable appeal fails), will that automatically disqualify her from office and get her fired? That seems to be only logical, but sometimes the law and logic get into fist-fights behind the courtroom.

    artichoke in reply to guyjones. | August 4, 2020 at 12:24 pm

    The leave should be unpaid. We’ve got to make public service not the gold plated employment option. It should be service rather than the most lucrative and secure position most people could imagine.

Doesn’t she need to be impeached in order to be removed from office? Does she get paid while in prison?

    Dusty Pitts in reply to ConradCA. | August 4, 2020 at 2:16 pm

    Since she’s a judge in a state court, the state’s constitution and laws apply in that regard.

    Were she a federal judge, permanent removal would indeed require impeachment by the House (yeah, right) and a Senate trial resulting in conviction.

Lock her up. Disbarment, and impeachment. Have her decisions reviewed by an independent adjudicator. Spank her ass. Call her Charlie.

Portland’s Judge Monica Herranz committed the very same crime. Why isn’t she being prosecuted?

    Milhouse in reply to judgeroybean. | August 4, 2020 at 6:55 pm

    Because a review by the county’s trial court administrator concluded that she didn’t know why the man wanted to leave by the side door. All she knew was that the prosecution and defense had both agreed that he should be allowed to do so, so she granted the request without asking any questions.

This one needs to spend the weekend in the stocks in the public square.

The idea that ANYONE is above the law is a leftist idea: and only leftists are ‘above the law’.

Judges who do criminal things need to be prosecuted and punished.

The likes of clinton, obama, pelosi, biden, kerry, omar, tlaib and the like are still awaiting justice. Until justice visits, we have a joke of a 2-tier justice system.

No one possibility could be arguing someone is above the law, I mean the hypocrisy would be to much to take.

    Milhouse in reply to Skip. | August 4, 2020 at 6:58 pm

    Judges while acting in their capacity as judges do indeed have absolute immunity. That’s why the government successfully argued here that while ordering the prisoner released was indeed a judicial act and thus covered by her immunity, the rest of it was not.

WhisperinPints | August 4, 2020 at 5:51 pm

Obama judge, Trump judge, Clinton judge, Bush judge, or $ORO$ judge?

The Friendly Grizzly | August 5, 2020 at 4:22 am

That picture at the top of this article: Chelsea Clinton’s siste

    HImmanuelson in reply to The Friendly Grizzly. | August 6, 2020 at 4:36 am

    I can’t see the video (too much security/ad blocking software) but I think she’s pretty. On the outside anyway. I’m hoping she’s removed from office and disbarred.

She took an Oath to uphold the Law ,,, she Failed ,,, she’s Fired ,,, put the frosting on the cake and remove her pension for her Illegal Actions !!

acts “taken in their judicial role.”
Well, the whole issue is that the action was NOT within her judicial role. The judicial role is NOT a kingly one allowing judges to simply act on their own feelings and desires toward whatever they feel justice might be. They are required to uphold the law. When they don’t do that, they are by definition not acting in said role.

I hope she sees the inside of the Big Fed Pen for a while. Then you can start hammering other judicial activists the same way.

    Milhouse in reply to GWB. | August 5, 2020 at 7:11 pm

    Misacting is still acting, and a wrongful judicial act, such as ordering a prisoner released, is covered by absolute immunity. That is not at issue here; everyone agrees on it. The question here was whether the other things she did are also covered, and the government prevailed in its contention that they are not judicial acts, and therefore not covered. A judge’s role does not include deciding which exit a former prisoner should use.

srroelker1946 | August 5, 2020 at 6:18 pm

How about a large hard fist in her smiling mouth and her assistant and we call it “even”……………

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