September 22, 2022

Matthew Segal, legal director at the ACLU of Massachusetts, today released the following statement in response to the federal government’s motion to dismiss charges against a Massachusetts judge:

“This prosecution was flawed from the start. The ACLU of Massachusetts was proud to represent retired state judges in amicus briefs warning that this prosecution could have devastating consequences for the Massachusetts judiciary and the separation of powers. Judicial independence is an indispensable principle in our legal system, and we are pleased that steps are being taken now to uphold that principle.”


In 2019, the ACLU of Massachusetts submitted an amicus brief on behalf of 61 retired Massachusetts judges, urging a federal court to dismiss obstruction of justice charges against Newton District Court Judge Shelley Joseph, who allegedly allowed a criminal defendant to exit using the rear door of a courthouse while an ICE agent was waiting in the lobby. According to the brief, there are remedies within the court system if a judge inappropriately exercises the power to control their courthouses and courts, including the Massachusetts Commission on Judicial Conduct.

The ACLU of Massachusetts is also engaged in related public records litigation against ICE, seeking information about the federal criminal prosecution of Judge Joseph. The public records request at the center of this lawsuit seeks all records concerning the alleged incident in Judge Joseph’s courtroom, including the emails and text messages of seven senior ICE officials.

For more information, go to: