A county judge in Oregon is being accused of helping an illegal immigrant escape from the courtroom and out a private entrance in order to avoid ICE agents that were reportedly waiting outside. Multonomah County Courthouse judge Monica Herranz is believed to have helped 22-year-old Diddier Pacheco Salazar evade plain clothed federal agents who were waiting outside after Salazar appeared in court to plead guilty to a DUII (Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants). Though no charges have been made against Herranz as of yet, the Department of Justice is investigating the event, according to Breitbart News.
U.S. Attorney for Oregon, Billy Williams, told the Willamette Week that he was troubled by the accusations.
“I was troubled because, on the face of it, what I heard sounded like potential federal criminal law violations and/or ethical violations,” Williams said. “Generally, we’re talking about obstruction of justice.”
Salazar was charged with driving recklessly and under the influence of intoxicants after an incident on January 1, and pleaded not guilty during his first court appearance two days later. However, the Mexican-born construction worker pleaded guilty during his second appearance on January 27 in order to obtain a deferred sentence and entry into a diversion program.
His second court appearance happened two days after President Trump signed an executive order which ramped up deportations and called for ICE officers to enforce immigration laws. It also declared that “sanctuary jurisdictions” like Portland would be subject to losing their federal funding if they refused to comply.
John Schlosser, Salazar’s court-appointed attorney, told the Willamette Week that he was aware of the ICE agents outside and wasn’t surprised when his client failed to come back out of the courtroom.
“I prepped my client. I said, ‘I don’t know if they’re going to pick you up outside or what, but here’s how to prepare,'” Schlosser said. “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.”
Though the entire series of events is unclear due to Herranz and her boss, Presiding Judge Nan Waller, declining to speak. However, the Willamette Week reports that “at least one defendant in the courtroom that day avoided federal immigration agents by leaving through an entrance usually reserved for court employees.”
Herranz, who is on the board of directors of the Oregon Hispanic Bar Association, was on the bench the day of Salazar’s court appearance. Her court superiors also looking into her alleged actions.
ICE ended up arresting Salazar two weeks later at a follow up hearing, Schlosser told the Willamette Week.