We Paid Indicted Judge’s Legal Bills [OPINION]
Remember that Massachusetts judge who was arrested for allegedly allowing an illegal immigrant to escape rather than face ICE agents that were waiting for him? You should, because you paid her legal bills between the time she was charged and a formal indictment was handed up against her. A total of $127,000, according to the Boston Herald.
Judge Shelley Richmond Joseph is facing a possible 20 years in the pokey for her alleged role in allowing the man, a native of the Dominican Republic, to escape rather than face possible deportation. The defendant was in Joseph's Newton courtroom to face drug charges. The fact that he had already been deported twice and was wanted in Pennsylvania on drunk driving charges was apparently of no concern to Judge Joseph.
Following her indictment, Joseph was suspended without pay but has asked the court to reinstate her $184,000 salary. The Herald says Joseph has also raised some $61,000 dollars through a GoFundMe appeal to help pay her legal bills.
A now retired court officer, Wesley MacGregor, has also been indicted on obstruction of justice charges in connection with the case. You have paid $2,5000 towards his defense as well. MacGregor was earning $83,344 prior to his retirement. It's not clear whether his pension is impacted by all of this.
It totally sucks that an activist judge might put her political agenda ahead of the safety of the citizens of the Commonwealth. This defendant was wanted on drunk driving charges and was facing drug charges when Judge Joseph allegedly let him escape. That makes him a serious public safety risk. In addition, he had already re-entered the U.S. multiple times after being deported. What equally sucks is that taxpayers were made to foot the bill for at least a portion of her legal defense.
The Governor's Council can and must do a better job in screening the judges that preside over the Massachusetts court system. Judge Joseph, a known political hack, was appointed by Governor Charlie Baker and easily approved by the Governor's Council. Too often, judges are nominated based on their political ties and are easily ushered into the system where they proceed to issue decisions based upon their personal political agendas.
This is wrong and needs to stop. And Massachusetts taxpayers should not be on the hook for the legal expenses incurred by state employees who run afoul of the law.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.