Massachusetts governor calls for removal of judge accused of helping immigrant avoid ICE

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) on Monday called for a judge to be temporarily removed from the bench after she allegedly helped an undocumented immigrant avoid Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. 

Baker told reporters that he didn’t think Newton District Judge Shelley Joseph should hear criminal cases until the federal grand jury investigation against her has concluded, The Boston Globe reported.

“Look, judges are not supposed to be in the business of obstructing justice,” he said, according to the Globe.

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Baker appointed Joseph to the bench last year. He called the allegations against her “extremely troubling," telling the paper that Joseph may have violated court policies.

A federal grand jury is investigating Joseph after Jose Medina-Perez was allegedly allowed to leave out of a back door of the courthouse in April while ICE agents were waiting to arrest him.

Officials are probing whether court personnel aided Medina-Perez’s escape. Medina-Perez, who is Dominican, was in court after being arrested on drug charges. According to the Globe, he had been deported twice before and used multiple aliases.

In a courtroom recording of the April 2 arraignment obtained by the Globe, Joseph is heard saying ICE is “going to get him,” before she directs a clerk to turn off the courtroom’s audio recorder, leaving a 58-second gap in the recording.

Medina-Perez was then escorted out of the courtroom, released from custody and let out through the back door, two people briefed on the incident told the newspaper. He allegedly scaled the fence and ran away as ICE agents chased after him.

Joseph declined to comment on the incident to the newspaper.

ICE spokesman John Mohan that there is an “unwillingness” of local agencies to cooperate, making courthouse arrests a necessity.

“ICE Officers take their responsibility for enforcement of this nation’s immigration laws very seriously and are committed to ensuring public safety,” Mohan told the Globe.