Newton District Judge Shelley M. Joseph and other court personnel are under federal investigation following an April 2 District Court hearing for a suspect by the name of Jose Medina-Perez, who may have been assisted in evading an ICE agent in the courtroom.
According to the Boston Globe, Medina-Perez, who appeared in court after being arrested by Newton police on drug charges, was reportedly released out of a back door of the court and was able to evade the ICE agent there to detain him.
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Aside from the drug charges, Perez faced a fugitive warrant for driving under the influence in Pennsylvania and a detainer issued by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Now and investigation, prompted by a US Attorney in Boston, is looking into whether or not the Newton judge and others helped Perez flee the court.
On the day of Perez’s court hearing, his attorney is said to have approached the bench to privately inform Judge Joseph and the state prosecutor about his client’s situation. Part of the sidebar conversation was recorded until the judge asked the court clerk to shut off the recorder.
“ICE is going to get him,” the judge told the attorneys during the April 2 sidebar conversation. “What if we continue [the case]?” she suggested. The judge then asked that the audio recorder be shut off. The rest of the 58-second conversation was not documented.
Following their conversation, Perez was escorted to the court’s downstairs where he was released. He jumped a fence and managed to escape the ICE agent.
“There is a big difference between doing nothing and taking affirmative steps to prevent some authority from exercising its rights,” Former US attorney Michael J. Sullivan shared when discussing the possibility that the Newton judge and others helped Perez escape deportation.
Newton judge declines to comment on the case
Judge Shelley M. Joseph as well as the Trial Court have declined to comment on the case.
If Judge Joseph is found guilty of aiding Perez, she faces the repercussions of hindering federal agents and failing to record the official court hearing in full.