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December 19, 2016

Judicial panel concludes judge committed no misconduct in the sentencing of Brock Turner

This new local article, headlined "Panel clears judge of bias in sentencing of Brock Turner," provides a notable postscript to what became a national sentencing story earlier this year. Here are the basics:

A commission cleared Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky Monday of misconduct in his light sentencing of a former Stanford student who sexually assaulted an unconscious woman outside a college party.

The Commission on Judicial Performance had received thousands of complaints and petitions that Persky — who on June 2 sentenced Brock Allen Turner to six months in county jail, three years’ probation and lifetime registration as a sex offender — was biased in his sentencing decision. The district attorney’s office had asked for six years in state prison, while the defense had requested four months in county jail with up to five years probation.

“Neither the judge’s statements about the impact of prison and the defendant’s future dangerousness — factors that the judge was required to address on the record — nor any other remarks made by Judge Persky at the sentencing hearing constitute clear and convincing evidence of judicial bias,” the panel concluded unanimously.  Based in San Francisco, the panel include six public members, two lawyers, and three judicial officers.

The 12-page panel decision is available at this link, and here is a key paragraph from its introductory section:

The commission has concluded that there is not clear and convincing evidence of bias, abuse of authority, or other basis to conclude that Judge Persky engaged injudicial misconduct warranting discipline.  First, the sentence was within the parameters set by law and was therefore within the judge’s discretion.  Second, the judge performed a multi-factor balancing assessment prescribed by law that took into account both the victim and the defendant.  Third, the judge’s sentence was consistent with the recommendation in the probation report, the purpose of which is to fairly and completely evaluate various factors and provide the judge with a recommended sentence. Fourth, comparison to other cases handled by Judge Persky that were publicly identified does not support a finding of bias.  The judge did not preside over the plea or sentencing in one of the cases. In each of the four other cases, Judge Persky’s sentencing decision was either the result of a negotiated agreement between the prosecution and the defense, aligned with the recommendation of the probation department, or both.  Fifth, the judge’s contacts with Stanford University are insufficient to require disclosure or disqualification. 

Some (of many) prior related posts on the Brock Turner case:

December 19, 2016 at 04:24 PM | Permalink


"Neither the judge's statements about the impact of prison and the defendent's future dangerousness-factors that the judge was required to address on the record-nor any other remarks made by Judge Persky at the sentencing hearing constitute clear and convincing evidence of judicial bias"

Are you kidding me?

Tell that to all the lower income "non-contact" offenders sitting in prison for having done less, much less than Brock Turner.

Were the commission panel members all from the same socio-economic class as Brock Turner and Judge Persky.?

Posted by: kat | Dec 20, 2016 10:05:57 AM

How many critics in the general public know about the probation report written by a woman?

Posted by: Joe | Dec 20, 2016 2:50:36 PM

The biggest issue in accusations of judicial bias is you have a judge who followed the recommendation of Probation and who generally follows that recommendation.

California has an extremely strange sentencing regime where you receive a choice of fixed possible sentences or you receive a sentence less than 12 months plus Probation if you qualify and are recommended for Probation. Brock Turner qualified and was recommended for Probation. The court followed that recommendation in giving him his sentence.

There's been no indication that the Judge differed from his normal practice in deciding this sentence. Now maybe the criticism is with the Probation department or with California law for allowing a Probation sentence on this charge (while not allowing it on similar charges), but the issue doesn't seem to be one of improper bias by the Judge.

Posted by: Erik M | Dec 20, 2016 3:09:03 PM

Kat. The pseudo-victim and the defendant partied all night. She just fell asleep at the wrong time, perhaps from alcohol, perhaps from boredom. Calm down.

Posted by: David Behar | Dec 21, 2016 12:02:19 AM

OMMMMMMMMM....calm enough for you?
Contact offenders, whether it a case of he said-she said, consensual/non-consensual sex, end up on probation when non-contact offenders end up in prison. It's not right and it's not justice.

Posted by: kat | Dec 21, 2016 10:54:49 AM

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