A twice-deported Dominican immigrant reportedly snuck out of a Massachusetts judge's courtroom, past the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officer waiting to deport him. Now, Gov. Charlie Baker wants that judge off the bench while a federal investigation determines what role she played in the fugitive’s escape.
The Newton District Court judge, Shelley M. Joseph, was presiding over the arraignment of Jose Medina-Perez on drug charges when he was escorted out of the building by his attorney and fled the scene, two unnamed sources told the Boston Globe. In the moments before that incident, audio recordings obtained by the Globe feature Joseph discussing with a Middlesex County prosecutor and Perez’s attorney how “ICE was going to get him.” At the time, Perez also faced an outstanding fugitive warrant for a drunken driving arrest in Pennsylvania, according to the Globe.
Now, a federal grand jury is investigating whether Joseph helped the fugitive escape her courtroom, five unnamed sources told the Globe. The recording of the judge’s conversation with the prosecutor and defense attorney stops at a key moment, when she asked the clerk to turn off the audio recorder. And when the conversation was over, the prosecutor asked Joseph to drop the fugitive warrant, according to the Globe.
The Middlesex District Attorney's office declined to comment, and the Newtown District Court did not immediately return VICE News’ request for comment.
Court personnel aren’t allowed to aid or obstruct federal immigration agents, and all court conversations are supposed to be recorded, according to NPR. While the probe tries to determine exactly what happened during the silent part of the recording, Baker wants Joseph to step down.
“Look, judges are not supposed to be in the business of obstructing justice,” Baker said during a Statehouse press conference on Monday.
Perez, who also goes by the names Julio Alexis Rios and Oscar Manuel Peguero, was arrested after the April courtroom incident, released on bond, and now faces deportation.
Cover image: Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker addresses reporters during a press update on Friday, Sept. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)