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Newton Judge Shelley Joseph faces trial after appeals court rejects dismissal

Boston Herald logo Boston Herald 3/1/2022 Joe Dwinell
FILE – In this April 25, 2019 file photo, district court judge Shelley M. Richmond Joseph departs federal court in Boston after facing obstruction of justice charges for allegedly helping a man in the country illegally evade immigration officials as he left her Newton, Mass., courthouse after a hearing in 2018. On Wednesday, June 26, Joseph’s attorney Michael Keating told Massachusetts’ highest court it was wrong to suspend the judge without pay when she has only been charged and is presumed innocent. Keating is asking the justices to reinstate Joseph’s pay and let her work on administrative tasks for the court system while the criminal case plays out. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File) © Provided by Boston Herald FILE – In this April 25, 2019 file photo, district court judge Shelley M. Richmond Joseph departs federal court in Boston after facing obstruction of justice charges for allegedly helping a man in the country illegally evade immigration officials as he left her Newton, Mass., courthouse after a hearing in 2018. On Wednesday, June 26, Joseph’s attorney Michael Keating told Massachusetts’ highest court it was wrong to suspend the judge without pay when she has only been charged and is presumed innocent. Keating is asking the justices to reinstate Joseph’s pay and let her work on administrative tasks for the court system while the criminal case plays out. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

Suspended Newton Judge Shelley Joseph can’t dodge a trial, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The First Circuit said her argument that she has “absolute judicial immunity” does not apply — yet.

“We must reject the defendants’ request for pre-trial review of the denial of their motions to dismiss because their appeals are premature,” the court writes in its ruling. Basically, the case must proceed before it kicks upstairs to them.

Joseph, still receiving her $184,000-a-year paycheck while facing a federal obstruction of justice charge, is accused of aiding an illegal immigrant’s escape from an ICE agent in her Newton district courtroom in 2018.

Retired court officer Wesley MacGregor is also facing the charge for allegedly leading the illegal immigrant through the courtroom’s lockup and exit.

The Appeals Court adds that “as a general rule, federal courts of appeal may exercise

appellate jurisdiction only over final decisions.”

They also state that Joseph’s claim that she is “immune from federal prosecution” has a “flaw.” The court writes “judicial immunity … does not provide a right not to be tried.”

Joseph was trying to overturn a lower court’s denial of her appeal to have all her charges dismissed.

Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins said through her office late Tuesday that the matter “remains an ongoing case.”

The Dominican man allegedly set free by Joseph had been deported twice before and wasn’t allowed back until 2027. The appeals court added the “alien subject (A.S.)” — as they identified him — was about to be seized by immigration when Joseph instructed her court officer to “tell the (ICE) officer to leave.”

“The clerk did as instructed, and also told the ICE officer that if released, A.S. would exit the courtroom into the courthouse lobby,” the court added. But, instead, he was reportedly set free out “a rear sally-port exit.” He was later apprehended, but that hasn’t stopped this case.

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