Newtown District Court Judge Shelley Richmond Joseph, 51, was arraigned on an obstruction of justice charge and other charges on April 25 at the federal courthouse in Boston. She pleaded not guilty.
Joseph wants to have her salary reinstated while her criminal case unfolds. She was suspended without pay after being indicted on the charges.
Joseph’s attorneys filed a motion on May 30 with the Supreme Judicial Court, requesting the reversal of the order suspending the judge’s pay, reported Mass Live. Joseph earned $181,000 last year.
The judge’s representatives claim that the suspension without pay does not have precedent and penalizes the judge despite her being innocent until proven guilty.
“Unproven and unfounded charges by the federal government do not compel this unprecedented and serious sanction, or the lack of fair process that attended its imposition,” attorneys stated in the motion. “The order runs counter to the presumption of innocence to which Judge Joseph is entitled.”
According to an affidavit obtained by the Boston Globe, Joseph has two daughters in college and is the financial provider for her mother, whose husband died in 2017. She and her husband, a real estate attorney, have struggled financially with the pay suspended so much that they’ve mulled selling their house.
“Prior to the indictment, my family was able to meet its financial expenses, but with very little room for error,” Joseph wrote in the affidavit. “Since my suspension without pay, our family income has decreased by more than half, because I had been earning more than my husband.”
Apart from “retirement funds,” the family has no savings, Joseph added. Her lawyers, who work at Foley Hoag, took the case pro bono, according to the motion.
According to indictments filed in April by the Department of Justice, the Newton Police Department on March 30, 2018, arrested and charged an alien defendant with being a fugitive from justice and possessing drugs.
An investigation revealed that the defendant had been deported twice from the United States, in 2003 and 2007. A federal order prohibited the defendant, identified in reports as Jose Medina-Perez, a 38-year-old from the Dominican Republic, from re-entering the United States until 2027.
After Medina-Perez’s illegal status was revealed, ICE issued a federal immigration detainer and a warrant of removal, meaning the federal authorities would take custody of the defendant if he was going to be released on bond or after being found not guilty or after being found guilty and serving a sentence.
On April 2, police transferred custody to the Newtown District Court, where Wesley MacGregor, 56, a trial court officer, and Joseph were present. MacGregor, the trial court officer that day, was sent the detainer and warrant.
US Attorney Andrew Lelling announced Federal charges against Newton Judge Shelley M. Richmond Joseph. pic.twitter.com/AbvyFoIz8r
— Jenna Fisher (@ReporterJenna) April 25, 2019
That morning, a plainclothes ICE officer was dispatched to the courthouse to take custody of Medina-Perez after the defendant’s release. The officer alerted MacGregor of his presence. Prior to Medina-Perez appearing in court in the afternoon, the courtroom clerk, at Joseph’s direction, allegedly told the officer to wait outside the courtroom in the lobby and said that the defendant, if released, would be sent to the lobby. The case started at 2:48 p.m.
“The audio recording captured Joseph, the defense attorney, and the [assistant district attorney] speaking at sidebar about the defendant and the ICE detainer. Joseph then allegedly ordered the courtroom clerk to ‘go off the record for a moment.’ For the next 52 seconds, the courtroom audio recorder was turned off, in violation of the District Court rules,” the department stated.
“At 2:51 p.m., the recorder was turned back on, and Joseph indicated her intent to release the defendant. According to the charging documents, the defense attorney asked to speak with the defendant downstairs and Joseph responded, ‘That’s fine. Of course.’ When reminded by the clerk that an ICE Officer was in the courthouse, Joseph stated, ‘That’s fine. I’m not gonna allow them to come in here. But he’s been released on this.’ Immediately following the proceeding, MacGregor allegedly escorted the defendant, his attorney, and an interpreter downstairs to the lockup and used his security access card to open the rear sally-port exit and release the defendant at 3:01 p.m.”
Joseph faces up to 30 years in prison, up to 11 years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. MacGregor faces up to 35 years in prison, up to 14 years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $500,000.