You may recall the bizarre story coming out of Massachusettes last month about a judge who was arrested after allowing an illegal alien to escape arrest by ICE agents. Judge Shelley Joseph was charged with obstructing justice, leading to cries of outrage from liberal officials around the state.

Joseph is currently suspended without pay and she’s facing up to 20 years in prison if convicted, but some of her supporters had been hoping that after cooler heads prevailed, US Attorney Andrew Lelling might reconsider and drop the charges. This week he decided to clarify the matter, however. The case is moving forward and he has plenty of reasons to prosecute her.

“My focus is on the conduct of this judge,” Lelling said during a May 6 appearance on WGBH’s “Greater Boston.” “To me, it’s not an immigration case. I know that seems counterintuitive to people. It’s a rule-of-law case. You have, the indictment alleges, a sitting judge who helps a federal fugitive evade capture by letting him out the back door. You can’t do that.” …

“The allegation here is not that this judge stood up and was forthright about what she was doing,” said O’Keefe. “If she had been, I might have a different view of this. It’s the subterfuge. That’s where the problem is . . . the feds frankly, in my judgment, are guilty of overreaching in many instances. I don’t think this is one of them.”

Note the use of the word “subterfuge” by District Attorney Michael O’Keefe, who supports Lelling’s decision. As it turns out, the US Attorney told reporters that he might have considered dropping the charges if this had been some spur of the moment decision and a case of bad timing for the ICE agents seeking to detain the criminal illegal alien, Jose Medina-Perez. In other words, it’s not just a question of what Judge Joseph did, but how she did it.

This report sheds some light on how everything played out and contains information I’d missed originally. Some of the early reporting made it sound as if the judge simply ended her case and allowed the suspect to leave instead of waiting for the ICE agents to show up, but that wasn’t how it happened at all. ICE was already in the building and Joseph sent a court clerk out in the hallway to ask them to wait outside, creating a diversion.

She then instructed another court clerk to shut off her recorder while the judge consulted with Medina-Perez’s defense attorneys. After that, she consulted with Wesley MacGregor, a 56-year-old retired court officer, and had him use his security badge to open the back door and allow Medina-Perez to slip out while the ICE agents were still waiting in the hall.

Not being an attorney, I don’t know if this qualifies as conspiracy, but there were certainly at least three and possibly as many as five involved. And they were all acting at the behest of Judge Joseph to thwart the efforts of immigration officials who were there to detain a criminal illegal alien. If that’s not a case of obstruction, I don’t know what is. And if Lelling can’t bring back a guilty verdict on this one, something has gone seriously off the rails in Massachusettes.