On Friday, February 10, 2023, Mass.gov released a copy of the Order that publicly reprimanded Housing Court Judge Joseph L. Michaud before the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.
The case is entitled “In the matter of Judge Joseph L. Michaud” with case no. OE-150.
The charges cited Code of Judicial Conduct 1.2, 2.4(c), 3.1(b), 3.1(c) and 4.1(a)(3) which state:
Failing to act, at all times, in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and/or impartiality of the judiciary.
Conveying, or permitting others to convey, the impression that any person or the organization was in a position to influence him.
Failing to refrain from participating in activities that are reasonably likely to lead to his recurrent disqualification.
Failing to refrain from participating in an extrajudicial activity that would appear to a reasonable person to undermine his independence, integrity, or impartiality.
Publicly endorsing or opposing candidates for public office.
The Code of Judicial Conduct can be found here.
Upon the Consideration of the final submission of the Agreed Facts, the Order was issued. In the Agreed Facts, it was stated that the respondent posted on his, now-deleted, Facebook account politically-oriented news articles, opinion editorials, and memes. All of the content of the said Facebook page is either directly or indirectly related to political figures, political issues, and or concerning politicized current events.
The filing states:
“Judge Michaud also commented on this post and wrote:
“Amazing abuse of power. This is Banana Republic’s level of behavior. Using Government intelligence and law enforcement resources against a political opponent. Makes Watergate look like child’s play. Wonder if the Main Stream media will even report this. ” From the interactive user data visible in this screenshot, this post had been “shared” eight times and included twenty-six “comments.” Twenty-six users had left an “impression” on this post.”
The filing continues:
“On Tuesday, October 20, 2020, at 3:22 p.m., during court hours, Judge Michaud re-posted on his Facebook page a “meme” that had been posted on October 7, 2020, by another Facebook user, Tracy George. The meme was an image of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D) with the following caption: “You pay her $223,500 a year plus expenses but she stopped you from getting S1,200, for crisis assistance..3 times in one week!!! Let that sink in.”
The Commission and the respondent agreed that the said conduct brought the Judicial office into disrepute that was prejudicial to the Administration of Justice. Moreover that the misconduct was unbecoming for a Judicial Officer.
In the Order dated, December 22, 2022, the Court accepted the Stipulation of Facts contained in the Final Submission.
The filing further states:
“The Court accepts the Stipulation of Facts contained in the Final Submission. The Stipulation describes the Judge’s postings on his now-deleted Facebook account during the period October 6, 2020, through November 14, 2020, relating to political figures, political
events, and politicized public events, all as set forth in the Final Submission.”
The filing additionally notes:
“The Court accepts the recommendation of the Commission that the Judge be publicly reprimanded for his misconduct. Public confidence in the judiciary is undermined when a judge’s social media activity casts reasonable doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially
even if the judge is in fact impartial. The Judge has acknowledged that he erred by sharing these types of posts that undermine public confidence in the judiciary. Contrary to the Judge’s belief that the postings were only visible to his Facebook “friends”, the postings, relating to political figures, political events, and politicized public events, were publicly visible.
Accordingly, Judge Joseph L. Michaud is hereby publicly reprimanded for the conduct described in the Stipulation of Facts, namely, his making posts on social media that expressed views on political candidates, political figures and issues, and posts that could
create the appearance of bias based on gender, ethnicity, or immigration status.”
After the said Order was issued, the Court ordered that a redacted copy of the Final Submission be made available to the Public. Hence, this publication.
Hon. Joseph attended Franklin Pierce Law Center at the University of New Hampshire.
Judge Michaud sits as an associate Housing Court Justice for the Metro South Division of Massachusetts Housing Courts located at 215 Main St #160, Brockton, MA 02301, United States, and can be reached at +1 508-894-4170. His info can be found on ballotpedia.org.