Jose Medina-Perez was in Shelley Joseph's Massachusetts courtroom for an arraignment on drug charges when the district court judge allegedly helped him evade immigration authorities. Now Joseph is facing federal charges, MassLive reports. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued an immigration detainer for Medina-Perez after the drug arrest in March of 2018, and a plainclothes ICE agent went to the courthouse to take him into custody at his arraignment the following month. Instead, federal prosecutors say, Joseph ordered the agent to leave the courtroom and had the courtroom recorder turned off. "ICE is gonna get him?" she reportedly said to Medina-Perez's defense attorney, according to a transcript of the portion of the conversation that was recorded. She then ordered him released without bail and, authorities say, made sure he was able to leave the courthouse.
Prosecutors say she told the ICE agent the suspect would be released into the courthouse lobby, but instead instructed a trial court officer to escort him to the downstairs lockup, and then the trial court officer let Medina-Perez exit through a back door. Both the officer and Joseph were indicted Thursday on counts of conspiracy to obstruct justice, aiding and abetting obstruction of justice, and aiding and abetting obstruction of a federal proceeding, plus perjury charges for the officer, who prosecutors allege lied to a federal grand jury when he testified that he didn't realize there was an immigration detainer for Medina-Perez. Medina-Perez, who had been deported once before and barred from entering the US until 2027, was caught about a month after the hearing in Joseph's courtroom, the AP reports. He is currently in immigration proceedings. (Trump's comment to border official causes a stir.)