On Thursday, September 22, 2022, the United States Department of Justice announced that it reached an agreement to drop felony charges against Massachusetts State District Court Judge Shelley M. Richmond Joseph.

Judge Joseph and former court officer and co-defendant Wesley MacGregor were indicted in April 2019 in the District of Massachusetts on obstruction of justice charges for allegedly preventing an ICE Officer from taking custody of an alien defendant in 2018.

Rhode Island U.S. Attorney Zachary Cunha said that Judge Joseph referred herself to the Massachusetts Commission on Judicial Conduct, as part of the agreement. The judge also made factual admissions that the Commission can consider as part of its review, along with the public allegations previously made in this case.

In light of these agreements, the federal government filed a motion to dismiss three of the four counts against Judge Joseph, including obstructing justice and conspiracy. The government also deferred prosecuting a perjury charge against MacGregor.

According to Cunha, this case is about the conduct of a sitting state court judge, on the bench, in the course of her judicial duties. Cunha said that the purpose of the case is to shed light on, and, as warranted, to secure accountability for that conduct.

Cunha added that:

“After I was assigned to oversee this matter, I undertook a full and comprehensive review of the evidence, the applicable law, and relevant equitable and prudential factors. Having done so, I have concluded that the interests of justice are best served by review of this matter before the body that oversees the conduct of Massachusetts state court judges, rather than in a continued federal criminal prosecution. The requirement that Judge Joseph refer herself to the Massachusetts Commission on Judicial Conduct and make certain factual admissions will ensure that review takes place.”

Source: The United States Department of Justice


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