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June 15, 2016

Juror involved in trial of Stanford swimmer Brick Turner assails sentence given for sexual assault convictions

I am generally somewhat hesitant about lambasting a judge's sentencing decision when I have only limited information about the case, and I often wonder whether others' quick to critcize a particular decision have reviewed all the key evidence before going on the attack.  Relatedly, I am uniquely interested in the views and criticisms of a sentening decision lodged by anyone who was intimately involved in the case, and thus I find distinctly noteworthy this new report about new criticisms of the controversial Brock Turner sentencing.  The article is headlined "Juror slams judge in Stanford rape case, calls sentence 'a mockery' amid recall push," and here is how it gets started:    

The judge who sentenced Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner to six months in jail for sexual assault is continuing to face criticism for his decision. The effort to recall Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky has gained steam, with several political groups vowing to raise money for the campaign.  Two veteran Democratic political consultants, Joe Trippi and John Shallman, decided Thursday to join the effort to force a recall election.

Then, one of the jurors who convicted Turner of sexual assault wrote a letter to Persky. The juror wrote of being “absolutely shocked and appalled” at the sentence.

“After the guilty verdict I expected that this case would serve as a very strong deterrent to on-campus assaults, but with the ridiculously lenient sentence that Brock Turner received, I am afraid that it makes a mockery of the whole trial and the ability of the justice system to protect victims of assault and rape,” the juror wrote to Persky.  “Clearly there are few to no consequences for a rapist even if they are caught in the act of assaulting a defenseless, unconscious person,” the juror wrote in the letter, which was obtained by the Palo Alto Weekly [available here].

Prior related posts:

June 15, 2016 at 08:47 AM | Permalink


What did the victim want? I've read somewhere that she didn't want him to do much time. Personally, I would have preferred a longer sentence and a shorter amount of time on the SOR.

The deterrence argument seems a little weak in this context--what is happening to Turner is a powerful deterrent.

There was an Oklahoma State athlete who raped a 12 year old. It would be interesting to compare/contrast the sympathetic news coverage of his case with the coverage of Turner's.

Posted by: federalist | Jun 15, 2016 9:31:34 AM

Based on what has been reported of the judges's sentencing comments, I wonder if the judge had a different view of the case than the jury's. At most sentencing hearings, judges typically take a skeptical view of attempts by defendants to claim that they are really innocent of the charges or attempts to minimize the offense. The reported comments from this case seem to accept the defense version of events. Since a judge can only set aside a verdict if the evidence was legally insufficient, I wonder if those comments and the sentence indicated that the judge might not have found the defendant guilty if it had been a bench trial.

Posted by: tmm | Jun 15, 2016 10:18:14 AM

The NYT had an interesting article on the case the other day including reference to the pre-sentencing report (written by a woman, which I guess someone might care about; don't know her background, since the judge's received some play) that suggested a comparable sentence.

Those who want to give more sentencing power to juries might use the juror's remarks to support their cause. As is, the jury convicted him of three felonies & sentence (granting the seriousness of the registry) seems to not really reflect their judgment in that respect. I would be interested in coverage that compared his sentence to somewhat comparable crimes in that jurisdiction. The linked article does provide some interesting details including reasons other than the victim impact statement to question the mitigation given to the defendant.

The juror noted: "Clearly there are few to no consequences for a rapist even if they are caught in the act of assaulting a defenseless, unconscious person." I think this is exaggerated given jail time, the registry and him being pressured to voluntary resign from his university. This even without nation-wide infamy which admittedly would not be evenly supplied (with his face all over the place) to other rapists.

Posted by: Joe | Jun 15, 2016 10:51:02 AM

“I was pummeled with narrowed, pointed questions that dissected my personal life, love life, past life, family life, inane questions, accumulating trivial details to try and find an excuse for this guy who had me half naked before even bothering to ask for my name.“

Wait, I thought you were unconscious?

Posted by: Anon | Jun 16, 2016 3:57:13 AM

Chris Collins was the player for Ok. St. Sad story. http://www.si.com/more-sports/2011/12/21/chris-collins

Posted by: Fat Bastard | Jun 16, 2016 9:14:39 AM

Yeah, fat bastard, and note SI's sympathetic coverage---and compare to the coverage of Brock Turner's crime.

Posted by: federalist | Jun 16, 2016 10:03:07 AM

A new story on the case indicates that a Stanford University official pressured women's swim team members who planned to communicate with the court at the sentencing stage to relate the long pattern of behavior that culminated in the rape not to do so, and that they complied.


This may not formally qualify for the legal definition of witness tampering but casts real doubt on the integrity of the sentencing process in the case.

Posted by: ohwilleke | Jun 17, 2016 12:54:59 PM

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