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Lawyers for indicted Newton judge want to know if promises were made to defense attorney, undocumented immigrant

Newton District Court Judge Shelley Joseph left federal court in April.
Newton District Court Judge Shelley Joseph left federal court in April.(Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff/file photo)

Lawyers for the Newton District Court judge and a now-retired state court officer who were indicted on obstruction of justice charges for allegedly helping an undocumented immigrant escape federal detention want to know if authorities made promises to the immigrant or his defense attorney, documents show.

A federal grand jury indicted Judge Shelley M. Richmond Joseph and Wesley MacGregor, the now-retired state court officer in late April.

On Thursday, lawyers for Joseph and MacGregor made discovery evidence requests of the government.

The attorneys want any evidence of promises made by federal prosecutors to Jose Medina-Perez, the immigrant federal prosecutors allege Joseph and MacGregor helped evade capture from a federal agent who had appeared at Newton District Court to detain him last year. Both Joseph and MacGregor have pleaded not guilty in the case.

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Specifically, the lawyers want to know if authorities gave Medina-Perez any deals regarding his immigration status, his detention, “any intention not to prosecute him for any federal crimes” and “any intention to facilitate his return to the Newton District Court to face pending state charges there.”

According to the indictment, an officer from Immigration and Customs Enforcement was dispatched to Newton on April 2, 2018, to detain Medina-Perez, a Dominican national who had entered the country illegally three times.

Medina-Perez, who had been arrested by Newton police on March 30 on charges of drug possession and being a fugitive from justice in Pennsylvania, was identified by the initials A.S., for “alien subject,’’ in the indictment, which detailed the events of that day.

The immigration officer, who was dressed in plainclothes, arrived at court around 9:30 a.m. with a warrant and identified himself to court personnel, including the court clerk who alerted Joseph to his presence.

Shortly after the case was called, the clerk told the officer to leave the courtroom and go outside.

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The clerk told the officer that if Medina-Perez was released, he would leave the courtroom through the lobby. The officer waited there.

Inside the courtroom, the lawyer for Medina-Perez, David Jellinek, told Joseph that his client would be deported if the ICE officer detained him, according to a recording of the proceeding.

“Can we go off the record for a moment?” Joseph asked the clerk.

The courtroom recorder was turned off for 52 seconds, in violation of Trial Court rules. Massachusetts US Attorney Andrew Lelling has said that Joseph and the defense attorney “then conspired to have Medina-Perez released out the back door of the courthouse.”

After the proceeding, MacGregor allegedly escorted Medina-Perez, his lawyer, and an interpreter downstairs where he used his security key to let Medina-Perez out the back door, according to federal authorities.

Now, in addition to requesting information about promises made to Medina-Perez, attorneys for Joseph and MacGregor want to know if federal authorities made promises to his attorney in the case.

In a Thursday court filing, MacGregor’s attorney was curious about “any and all communications and or discussions relative to the government’s intent to prosecute or not prosecute the Defense Attorney for any federal crime,” as well as any promises made to that lawyer “regarding any ethical violation the Defense Attorney may be exposed to which could jeopardize the Defense Attorney’s license to practice law.”

The defense attorney, Jellinek, has not been charged with any crime in the case.

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The lawyers also want the details of the off-the-record conversation between the judge, the prosecutor, and the defense attorneys, according to Thursday court filings.

Joseph, 51, is seeking to have her salary reinstated as she remains on suspension and her legal bills mount. She was suspended without pay by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court after a federal grand jury indicted her April 25.


Maria Cramer, Andrea Estes, and Matt Stout of Globe staff contributed to this report. Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.