The Supreme Judicial Court, which oversees all other courts in the state, said today it's suspended Newton District Court Judge Shelley Joseph without pay while she deals with her federal indictment for obstruction of justice.
Meanwhile, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey blasted what she called "a radical and politically-motivated attack on our state and the independence of our courts."
The SJC emphasized that in suspending Joseph, appointed by Gov. Baker as a judge in 2017, it is making no judgment on the validity of the charges against Joseph, under which she could face up to 20 years in federal prison for allegedly helping a man wanted by ICE escape an ICE agent in her courtroom last year:
This Order is based solely on the fact that a sitting judge has been indicted for alleged misconduct in the performance of her judicial duties. It in no way reflects any opinion on the merits of the pending criminal case. The Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits all judges from making "any statement that might reasonably be expected to affect the outcome or impair the fairness of a matter pending or impending in any Massachusetts court." SJC Rule 3:09, Code of Judicial Conduct, Rule 2.10.
Healey, though, very much made a judgment in her statement, saying that the Joseph matter could have been handled just fine through a state judicial-conduct commission and that it's pretty clear what's really going on here:
I am deeply disappointed by U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling’s misuse of prosecutorial resources and the chilling effect his actions will have.