Judge in Brock Turner Case faces petitions for recall
Stanford law professor Michele Dauber began a campaign to recall Judge Aaron Persky following Persky’s controversial sentencing of Brock Turner. According to the District Attorney’s office, Turner was charged in June with “intent to commit rape of an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object,” Persky sentenced Turner to six months in jail, which was then reduced — due to good behavior — to three months with a three year probation. Additionally, Turner will be put on the sex offenders registry in his home state of Ohio.
Dauber, along with many others across the country, feel that Persky was much too lenient with his sentencing of Turner, accusing him of being biased in favor of privileged college students, particularly those from Stanford University, Persky’s alma mater. Persky defended his actions by claiming that he did not want to ruin Turner’s entire life over one mistake.
“A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him,” Persky said at Turner’s sentencing. “I think he will not be a danger to others.”
Many of Persky’s opponents cite Persky’s sentencing of Raul Ramirez, an immigrant from El Salvador, in their efforts to prove Persky’s consistent bias in sexual assault cases. Persky sentenced Ramirez to three years in prison for a case involving sexual assault. That was very similar to the one involving Brock Turner.
In his efforts to avoid being removed from his judgeship, Persky created a website named “Retain Judge Persky” where he asks for donations to support his campaign. This site also features an essay Persky wrote defending himself.
“I believe strongly in judicial independence,” Persky wrote on his website. “I took an oath to uphold the Constitution, not to appease politicians or ideologues. When your own rights and property are at stake, you want the judge to make a fair and lawful decision, free from political influence.
Persky has raised roughly $3,600 in donations; the opposition led by Dauber has raised over $100,000. Dauber has spoken at numerous rallies and other events in order to raise awareness and recruit more people to her cause.
“Judge Persky treated the survivor as if she didn’t matter, as if it was the perpetrator’s case, as if it was the perpetrator’s fear, his injuries, his reputation that mattered, and we are here to say enough is enough!” Dauber said in a rally in San Francisco. “Women and survivors of sexual violence have fought too long and too hard to be treated as if we don’t matter.”
Although there has been widespread support for the efforts to recall Persky, many still believe that Persky does not deserve to be recalled soley because he made a single controversial ruling. Among those in support of Persky is LaDoris Cordell, a retired judge of the Superior Court of California.
“If [the recall] succeeds, then judges will be looking over their shoulders before making any sentencing decisions, for fear of being targeted by someone who doesn’t like their rulings,” Cordell said. “I believe that the recall process should be utilized to remove judges who have a demonstrated record of abusing or misusing their authority or who have a history of making unlawful or biased decisions. Judge Persky does not have such a record.”
The recall election will take place in November. Recalls are rare, but Dauber is working hard to remove Persky from the bench.
“Judges in this county are elected, and this [injustice] must go before the voters,” Dauber said. “The petition that matters is the official recall petition signed by the voters of Santa Clara County. It will take grit, it will take determination, it will take hard work, and it will take support.”