An Oregon judge is under investigation for allegedly breaking federal law by helping an illegal immigrant, who had just pleaded guilty to a DUI charge; avoid Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who were waiting outside of the courtroom. The great escape occurred on January 27 in Multnomah County, where the suspect, Diddier Pacheco Salazar reportedly used an exit that is not open to the public to leave the building (via Willamette Week):
A young man's daring escape from capture by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, apparently with the assistance of a local judicial referee, has shocked and divided the Portland legal community.
Multnomah County court referee Monica Herranz is under internal review and the target of complaints from a federal prosecutor after allegedly helping the undocumented immigrant elude ICE last month by exiting the courtroom through an employee door.
The getaway didn't ultimately keep the man from being snared by immigration officials after pleading guilty to a DUII. But it demonstrates how everyday court proceedings have mutated, and how tensions have grown within the criminal justice system, as ICE steps up deportations under President Donald Trump.
On the bench in the courtroom that day was Monica Herranz, who is also on the board of directors of the Oregon Hispanic Bar Association. Herranz is what's known as a court referee: essentially a contract judge who handles lower-level criminal, civil and family court cases.
Herranz declined to speak to WW.
The Oregonian reported that U.S. Attorney Billy Williams briefed other Multnomah County judges of the incident, reminding them that it’s a crime to help illegal immigrants evade immigration enforcement and noted that illegal aliens with DUI charges have long been seen as a priority for deportation. He said that no charges will be filed against Herranz, who he did not name, and that this won’t even be taken up with the Oregon State Bar:
Both federal agencies declined to pursue a criminal investigation or a complaint to the Oregon State Bar. Williams said he asked for a meeting with Multnomah County judges about what happened to prevent it from happening again.
"I found it to be troubling," he said. "We are all officers of the court and we all take an oath to follow the law."
Judge Nan Waller, Multnomah County Circuit Court's presiding judge, late Monday said the incident is the subject of an internal review. She declined to comment further.
She said even before she learned about it she sent an email to court staffers advising them that they can't facilitate or impede the work of federal immigration agents. Her priority, she said, is ensuring people feel comfortable coming to court.
"The courts have a responsibility to try to make sure there is good access to the courthouse and we have encouraged ICE to view the courthouse as a sensitive location," she said.