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U.S. drops charges against Massachusetts judge in immigration arrest case By Reuters




By Nate Raymond

BOSTON (Reuters) -U.S. prosecutors on Thursday said they reached an agreement to drop criminal charges filed during the Trump administration against a Massachusetts judge accused of impeding a federal immigration arrest of a defendant in her courtroom.

Federal prosecutors said they had agreed to dismiss the obstruction charges filed against Newton District Court Judge Shelley Joseph in exchange for the judge referring herself to a state commission tasked with investigating judicial misconduct.

Prosecutors are also dropping obstruction charges against her former courtroom deputy, Wesley MacGregor, who is no longer employed by the state court system. He entered into a deferred prosecution agreement to resolve a remaining perjury count.

The announcement marked the end of a high-profile case filed in 2019 during former Republican President Donald Trump’s administration that state Democrats and civil rights groups had long contended was politically motivated.

“This was a patently political indictment, blindly grounded in prosecutorial ambition,” Thomas Hoopes, Joseph’s lawyer, said in a statement.

The case was filed during clashes between Trump’s administration and local governments, including “sanctuary cities” that resisted his immigration crackdown and courthouse arrests by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE (NYSE:)) officers.

Prosecutors accused Joseph and MacGregor of blocking an ICE agent from detaining a previously deported man by helping him leave their courthouse in Newton through a rear door in 2018.

The case was first brought under then-U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling, a Trump appointee who was succeeded by Rachael Rollins (NYSE:), an appointee of Democratic President Joe Biden.

The case was reassigned to Rhode Island U.S. Attorney Zachary Cunha, as Rollins recused herself after she had sued to block the Trump administration from carrying out immigration arrests at courthouses while serving as Boston’s district attorney.

“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,” Cunha said.



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