Judge Indictment Leads To Key Question for Massachusetts Governor

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2019/04/25/judge-indictment-leads-to-key-question-for-massachusetts-governor/

The indictment of a Newton District Court judge who prosecutors say helped an illegal immigrant escape a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent last year is a good first step to stopping the outrageous behavior of some Massachusetts judges.

But it’s not enough.

A transcript of the court recording and a federal indictment show the accused, Shelley M. Richmond Joseph, engineering the escape of the illegal alien through a ruse. The details are head-turning.

First, she made the ICE agent wait hours. The agent arrived at the courthouse at 9:30 a.m., and the defendant’s first case was called about an hour later. The next call was around the noon hour. That’s when she had the clerk order the agent out of the courtroom – even though it was an open-court proceeding, and the ICE agent had at least as much right to be there as anybody else.

Then, after 3 p.m. – the ICE agent had been on the case more than five and a half hours, and perhaps had missed lunch so as not to miss the defendant – the judge conspired with the prosecutor and defense lawyer to figure out a way out of the building for the defendant through a secure sally-port at the rear basement exit.

This is all shocking and disgusting, and we congratulate U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling for bringing it to light.

It’s not necessary to assume the judge’s criminal guilt – and we don’t, as she’s entitled to her day in court like everybody else – to see her as unfit for the bench. The details in the transcript of the audio recording of April 2, 2018 demonstrate that for all the world to see.

Governor Charlie Baker criticized the judge’s actions when they first came to light last year, of course. But her actions lead to a question, which only Governor Baker can rightly answer:

How did Shelley Joseph become a state judge?

We all know the usual general answer, since judges are typically politically connected lawyers.

But how did she, specifically, get the nod from our supposedly competent and data-driven chief executive officer of state government?

He appointed her. And not just that – he had appointed her recently.

Joseph had been a district court in Massachusetts 137 days before conspiring to set free what the indictment calls the Alien Subject.

What data drove him to do it?

Shelley Joseph is Charlie Baker’s problem, and we deserve an answer from him.

Whether it’s a good answer or not, providing it may serve the same purpose as the federal indictment. It’s not so much about punishing the people who make bad decisions; it’s about trying to make sure it doesn’t happen again.