District Court Judge Shelley Richmond Joseph and Trial Court Officer Wesley MacGregor face severe penalties: “charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of a federal proceeding – aiding and abetting provide for sentences of no greater than 20 and five years in prison, respectively; five and three years of supervised release, respectively; and a fine of $250,000,” said a press statement from the Department of Justice.
The illegal alien was arrested in March 2018 for narcotics possession. An agent from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency was sent to the courthouse to arrest and deport the alien, who “had twice been deported from the United States – in 2003 and 2007, and … a federal order had been issued prohibiting the defendant from entering the U.S. until 2027,” the statement said, adding:
The Officer announced his presence to Courthouse personnel, including Joseph, upon arrival. Prior to the afternoon session, the courtroom clerk – at Joseph’s direction – allegedly instructed the ICE Officer to leave the courtroom and wait outside in the lobby, stating that in the event that the defendant was released, it would be through the courtroom and into the lobby.
At 2:48 p.m. the case was called and the proceedings were captured on the courtroom’s audio recorder, as prescribed under the rules for all State District Courts. The audio recording captured Joseph, the defense attorney and the ADA speaking at side bar 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. 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.