A judge in Oregon is under investigation for allegedly helping an undocumented immigrant escape Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers who had come to apprehend him.
Multnomah County Judge Monica Heeranz was notified by court staff that ICE officers were waiting outside her courtroom for Diddier Pacheco Salazar, a Mexican national appearing in connection with a DUI charge on Jan. 27. He had come to plead guilty to the charge in exchange for a suspended sentence contingent upon his entry into a diversion program, according to local media reports.
What exactly ensued is not yet determined, but officials in the local U.S. attorney’s office fear Heeranz guided Salazar out of the courtroom through an employees’ exit and then out of the building.
“I felt that it was inappropriate and delegitimizes the work of ICE agents who are out there doing their jobs,” U.S. attorney Billy Williams told local press. “When you’re talking about the judicial system – whether it’s federal or by state – you have an expectation that people are going to abide by the law and not take steps based on their own motivations, their own politics — whatever the motivation was.”
Salazar’s court-appointed lawyer, John Schlosser, said he did not assist in his client’s alleged escape, and was surprised to learn he made a clean get away.
“I prepped my client,” he said. “I said, ‘I don’t know if they’re going to pick you up outside or what, but here’s how to prepare.’ After the court appearance, I went out in the hallway and sat. My client never came out. I can’t say that I’m surprised he didn’t come out, but I gave him his options, and assume he had to have been escorted out some other way.”
Chief Judge Nan Waller is now leading an internal investigation of the incident.
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