Last we heard from Massachusetts Judge Shelley Joseph, accused of conspiring to help a criminal illegal alien evade ICE agents in her courtroom, she had turned down a plea deal that would have allowed her to avoid jail time. As such, she remains free on her own recognizance but suspended without pay while awaiting trial. Her attorneys are trying to change that, however, and are asking that the judge’s salary be reinstated because her legal fees are mounting. (Boston Globe)
Shelley Joseph, the district court judge who was indicted on obstruction charges for allegedly helping an undocumented immigrant escape federal detention, is seeking to have her salary reinstated as she remains on suspension and her legal bills mount.
Joseph, 51, was suspended without pay by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court after a federal grand jury indicted her April 25.
On Thursday, her lawyers filed a motion with the SJC requesting that her annual salary of $181,000 be reinstated while the case winds its way through federal court in Boston.
I’ll demonstrate at least a bit of restraint and not lead off my response to this with a sarcastic “boo hoo.” The local coverage of this story points out that Joseph has two kids with college tuitions to pay for, a mortgage, and a mounting pile of legal bills to cover her defense. I’m sure most of us can relate to at least the first two financial issues she’s facing. But hopefully very few of us have the same mountain of legal bills piling up. Why? Because we didn’t help a criminal illegal alien escape justice (allegedly).
Seriously, we’re talking about allegations against not just any random citizen, but a sitting judge (at the time, anyway) who is charged with upholding the laws of the land. Putting her out on what would essentially be a paid vacation in response to these charges should be seen as an outrage. If Joseph goes to trial and is somehow found not guilty, I’m sure she could petition to have her pay retroactively returned to her.
Speaking of her legal bills, it’s not as if she won’t have other options. The Boston Herald reports that a Massachusetts attorney and friend of Joseph’s has started a GoFundMe page to raise money for her legal bills. As of this writing, the crowdfunding effort has raised $59,368 of their $750,000 goal from 525 donors. (That’s an average donation of more than 100 dollars.)
The attorney’s name is Alan Fanger and he’s going to want to be careful not to cause even more trouble through this effort. If Joseph accepts this sort of help from that many people and eventually returns to the bench, she would obviously have to recuse herself if any of them ever appeared before her in the future. Fanger claims that he’s carefully reviewing all donations and not allowing any attorneys to donate. But he’s also asked that all donations be made anonymously.
Oh, really? Why would that be? If you’re so concerned about possible conflicts of interest in the future, wouldn’t you want the donations to be as transparent as possible? Or do you worry that people interested in donating might be embarrassed to have others find out they were helping the now infamous judge? Everything about this case smells like yesterday’s fish.