Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has called for the temporary removal of a Newton judge who allegedly helped an undocumented immigrant that had been arrested for drug charges escape from the courthouse where ICE officials were waiting to arrest him, The Boston Globe reports. Baker appointed the Newton judge last year.
“Look, judges are not supposed to be in the business of obstructing justice,” Baker said to reporters on Monday. “And as far as I can tell, based on the facts as they were presented, she clearly violated the court’s own policies with respect to the way they’re supposed to handle detainers.”
Baker’s comments come after a Boston Globe Spotlight report said that Shelley Joseph, the judge in question and a Boston College graduate, allowed Jose Medina-Perez to exit the courthouse through a back door, climb a fence, and escape from the courthouse while the ICE agents remained inside waiting for him.
The Globe is in possession of a courtroom recording in which Joseph is debating with lawyers about Medina-Perez.
“ICE is going to get him,” Joseph can be heard saying.
The audio cuts out for 58 seconds, and when it returns, the state prosecutor asks that charges for drunk driving in Pennsylvania be dropped because they did not believe Medina-Perez matched the mug shot photo. Globe sources said it was at this point that Medina-Perez was allowed to leave through the back of the building.
The Boston Globe reported on Sunday that a federal grand jury has been convened to investigate the incident.
Newton is a sanctuary city, meaning that it will not help ICE locate any undocumented immigrants. But, Massachusetts trial courts require that judges neither help nor hinder federal agents—if anyone helped Medina-Perez directly, he or she could be in violation of this law.
“There is a big difference between doing nothing and taking affirmative steps to prevent some authority from exercising its rights,” said former U.S. attorney Michael J. Sullivan, according to the Boston Globe report.