Published: Fri, June 08, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Santa Clara County Voters Recall Judge Persky

Santa Clara County Voters Recall Judge Persky

The California judge who handed former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner a lenient sentence for sexual assault has been recalled from office.

Two years after Judge Aaron Persky sentenced a Stanford athlete to six months for sexual assault, voters in California delivered their own verdict by booting him from office. He was released from jail for good behavior after serving three months.

However, the judge claimed he was adopting the probation department's recommendation to spare Turner prison for several reasons, including Turner's age, clean criminal record and the fact that both Turner and the victim were intoxicated.

In March 2016, Turner was found guilty of three felony charges and faced up to 14 years in prison.

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According to Santa Clara's primary election results, 59 percent of the county's voters favored recalling Persky and 41 percent opposed the recall. Fifty-nine percent of voters moved to remove the judge, making Persky the first judge recalled in California since 1932 and the first judge recalled in the United States since 1977. "But this recall seems to say, if a decision doesn't meet with public approval, you could lose your job".

Calls for Persky's recall began nearly immediately, with a petition calling for his removal from the bench garnering nearly one million signatures. The opposition to the recall effort - including the Santa Clara County district attorney, its presiding judge and multiple former judges - argued that this was the proper democratic response to the controversial jail sentence, rather than removing the judge himself.

Predating the #MeToo movement of women speaking out publicly against sexual harassment and abuse, the outcome of the Turner case became a symbol of how the U.S. justice system fails to take sex crimes seriously enough.

The recall campaign has been led by Stanford Law professor Michelle Dauber, a family friend of the victim.

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Persky held his first public news conference days before the AP interview and declined to speak about the details of the Turner case because it was going through the appeal process.

I want to end this campaign, as we began it, with the words of Emily Doe, slightly modified.

"Tonight many, many voters voted against the culture of impunity for high-status perpetrators of sexual assault or domestic violence", Dauber told The Washington Post. A broad swath of Silicon Valley's legal community said it also ran the risk of harming less privileged defendants by pressuring judges to impose harsher sentences. "A political movement that seeks to stack the judiciary by recalling people who make unpopular opinions is bad whether you're on the left or right", said Prof.

Dauber, however, dismissed that finding by the California Commission on Judicial Performance, calling it a "one-sided, closed-door procedure". Will they still like me?' " Persky said. No matter that Turner will be legally regarded as a sexual offender for the rest of his life, and not only have to frequently report to the local sheriff wherever he lives, but also have restrictions on where he can live.

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Cordell and others banded together in February to fight the recall, but she said Wednesday that they had too little time to change perceptions.

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