Update: Judge and Court Officer Charged with Obstruction of Justice for Aiding Fugitive Illegal Immigrant
By Beth Florkowski of Fausone Bohn, LLP posted in Criminal Law on Tuesday, July 2, 2019.
We have an update to our previous blog regarding the Massachusetts judge who helped an illegal immigrant escape from federal officers.
According to a report, taxpayer dollars were used to pay $127,000 in legal fees for Shelley Joseph, the Massachusetts judge charged with obstruction of justice for helping an illegal immigrant evade Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Jose Medina-Perez was deported in 2003 and again in 2007. He had a fugitive warrant for drunk driving and was appearing in court to be arraigned on drug charges. Joseph, along with Court Officer Wesley MacGregor, allegedly allowed Medina-Perez to sneak out the back door of the courthouse to avoid being detained by an ICE agent who was at the court looking for him.
Although the Massachusetts taxpayers are out of luck on this one, the law in Michigan may have prevented public funds from being used that way. According to Michigan’s governmental immunity law, when an officer or employee of a local government is charged with a crime, the government has the option of picking up the tab, but only if the employee or officer had a reasonable basis for believing that he or she was acting within the scope of his or her authority at the time.
Here, the judge clearly exceeded her authority. It seems that, in Michigan, the taxpayers would have saved over $100,000, unlike their Massachusetts counterparts.