« Prez Trump reportedly "obsessed" with pardons and "may sign a dozen or more in the next two months" | Main | Kimme’s accomplishment: Prez Trump commutes LWOP sentence of Alice Johnson!! »

June 6, 2018

Judge Aaron Persky recalled by voters in response to lenient sentencing of Brock Turner

As reported in this Fox News piece, "Northern California residents on Tuesday voted to recall the judge who sentenced a former Stanford University swimmer convicted of sexual assault to a short jail sentence instead of prison." Here is more:

Voters opted to oust Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky. He was targeted for recall in June 2016 shortly after he sentenced Brock Turner to six months in jail for sexually assaulting a young woman outside a fraternity house on campus. Prosecutors argued for a 7-year prison sentence. Turner was instead sentenced to six months in jail for sexually assaulting a young woman outside a fraternity house on campus. Critics say Turner's sentece was too lenient.

Persky maintained that he had followed a recommendation from the county probation department. The California Commission on Judicial Performance ruled that the case was handled legally.

The case gained national prominence after the victim read a statement in court before Turner's sentence. The statement made the rounds online and was read on the floor of the U.S. Capitol during a congressional session.... Michele Dauber, a Stanford University professor who led the recall effort, said the election "expresses clearly that sexual assault, sexual violence is serious and it has to be taken seriously by elected officials.” She added: "It's a historical moment when women across all sectors of society are standing up saying enough is enough."

Persky's supporters said his removal set a dangerous precedent. LaDoris Cordell, a former Santa Clara County judge who led a counter campaign against the recall, called the decision "a sad day for the California judiciary." Cordell added, that the vote implies if judges don't concede to popular opinion, "they can lose their job."

Persky has served on the court since 2003. He declined The Associated Press' request for comment late Tuesday. Assistant District Attorney Cindy Hendrickson will serve the last four years of Persky's term, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

I suppose it is fitting that a local judge recalled for a sentence being too lenient gets replace by a local prosecutor.  Regular readers know there have been lots and lots of prior posts here about the Brock Turner case, including posts in which I expressed various concerns about both the lenient sentence Turner received and about the campaign to recall Persky.  Here is a sampling of the prior posts this case has generated:

June 6, 2018 at 09:07 AM | Permalink


The lawyer profession is under the control of the feminists. No lawyer may oppose feminism and continue in the criminal cult enterprise. Prof. Dauber is a Stanford Law School radicalized lawyer, but is not licensed. She led the feminist lynch mob, in this case.

Feminism in 2018 is perfectly analogous to the KKK in 1918. Both are lawyer movements, and ideologies. Both are politically correct orthodoxies of their time. None may dissent from them without paying a heavy price. Both are white supremacist. Both are masking ideologies for power and money for the criminal cult enterprise. I consider Persky a street judge, triply oppressed as the public by the criminal cult enterprise. He was replaced in his job by a feminist, naturally.

Posted by: David Behar | Jun 6, 2018 10:07:27 AM

I'm wary about this recall but think it important to note (as cited in an article referenced) his recall wasn't just based on one case.

Posted by: Joe | Jun 6, 2018 10:10:57 AM

What bothers me is that people who are normally against mass incarceration still want longer sentences in cases like this. They don't realize that long sentences don't send a message, nor do they act as a deterrent. It's outrageous that a seemingly fair and honest judge was removed because the ignorant masses want vengeance. I believe it will have a negative effect. Judges will fear being recalled and will issue harsh and unnecessary sentences, so it will end up having the opposite effect that supporters want. Minorities and the poor will be negatively effected.

One can still think this was an awful crime and yet believe that the sentence was appropriate. Even if a longer sentence was imposed, do you think that Turner would have received adequate mental health treatment and rehabilitation while incarcerated that would have corrected his behavior? Of course not. He most likely would have been harassed and abused by other inmates who regularly watch/read the news and would have easily identified him. When finally released, he would have been a broken, traumatized person which could possibly make him less safe. All the while hundreds of thousands of dollars wasted incarcerating him for years.

I was impressed that so many public defenders came to the defense of Judge Persky. I really hope this doesn't have a chilling effect on judges, but I'm worried that it will.

Posted by: Chris | Jun 6, 2018 10:11:22 AM

In a past post, the DB particularly recommended a Huff Post article.

One paragraph:

"To convince voters that Persky was unfit for the bench, Dauber knew she needed to demonstrate that Turner’s sentence was not an isolated bad decision. Her teaching assistant, a graduate student named Emma Tsurkov, was also working on the recall. Dauber asked her to dig into the previous 18 months in which Persky had been hearing criminal cases. Tsurkov found some cases that appalled them both. In 2015, Ikaika Gunderson, an aspiring 21-year-old football player, had beaten and choked his girlfriend, then pushed her out of a parked car. Gunderson pleaded no contest to a felony count of domestic violence. Persky agreed to delay Gunderson’s sentencing for a year so he could attend school at the University of Hawaii and try out for the football team, provided he took a domestic violence class and attended weekly AA meetings. Robert Chain had been caught with child pornography, including an image of an infant being penetrated. Chain had expressed remorse and pleaded guilty. He got off with time served: two days in jail. In 2016, Keenan Smith, a football player at the College of San Mateo, was convicted of domestic violence after hitting his girlfriend and punching a bystander who tried to defend her. After he pleaded guilty to misdemeanors as part of a plea deal, he was sentenced to 120 days in a weekend work program."

The article also notes the leader of the recall thought the judge's handling of the Turner case had gratuitous elements above and beyond the punishment given.

Was the recall just? I can't tell by such a paragraph and don't want to support some stereotypical "tough on crime" sentiment. Recalls especially of judges seem to usually be troubling message affairs.

Posted by: Joe | Jun 6, 2018 10:54:04 AM

And as typical I have a different take on this. I don't know enough about the judge's /entire/ track record to judge. Anyone can find something they disagree with if they look hard enough so five cases isn't particularly persuasive to me viewed in isolation. My concern comes from a different angle--I wonder if this in the long run is going to be used as another weapon to undermine academic freedom. Look, the professor even had a graduate student work on the case. The purpose of academic freedom and tenure is to allow professors to teach students without fear of the repercussions--it isn't to meddle in political affairs. Those who know their history will recall that the very fist case the AAUP dealt with (lead by John Dewey) was a case involving...you guessed it...Stanford University.

On one had that concern is off topic for this blog, on another it is not as this blog is run by a tenured professor.

Posted by: Daniel | Jun 6, 2018 12:50:55 PM

Female drug kingpin to be released by Trump, a weak leader, and a NYC liberal. This is an important test case for feminism privilege and for decarceration. How many will she kill, and how long will it be before she returns to prison?


Posted by: David Behar | Jun 6, 2018 1:09:46 PM

Judge Persky is a feminist. His recall is ironic.

Posted by: David Behar | Jun 7, 2018 12:41:19 AM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB