California voters recall Judge Aaron Persky after outcry following his sentencing of convicted rapist Brock Turner
Judge Aaron Persky, who sentenced Stanford University student Brock Turner to just six months in jail (only three of which he actually served) for sexual assault, has been successfully recalled after a petition gathered enough signatures to put it to a vote.
Residents of Santa Clara county voted to recall Persky — the first California judge to be recalled since 1932. The result came after a petition signed by over 100,000 constituents demanded that Persky’s spot on the bench be put up for a vote. Back in 2016, Turner faced up to 14 years in jail for his charges, but Persky’s sentence of six months was seen as far too lenient by many, which sparked debate over whether he should remain on the bench.
Persky’s term was set to end in 2022, but a June 5th special election to remove him has him gone a full four years early. And to that I say, hallelujah.
This is, after all, the judge who worried very hard about the future of a convicted rapist. Who said things like, “A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him … I think he will not be a danger to others” and “I mean, I take him at his word that, subjectively, that’s his version of events,” defending Turner’s claim that in his drunken state, he remembers being given consent by the victim, Emily Doe.
Right. Consent from a girl who was unconscious and lain behind a dumpster as Turner violated her when the pair was spotted by students on their bikes. There were actual witnesses to this act who then had to chase and tackle Turner, because even though he was too drunk to remember accurately whether the unconscious girl he was raping had given consent, his brain still had the presence of mind to run away from the repulsive crime he was committing.
Although thousands of California residents supported the ousting of Persky, plenty of others stepped up to defend him, including The Santa Clara County Bar Association. Retired California superior court judge LaDoris Cordell told NPR in February of her reasoning behind opposing Persky’s recall. “I believe it is a dangerous threat to the independence of the judiciary … [Persky] has no record of bias or misconduct. And I’m opposed to it because I believe this recall is terrible for racial justice. … If it succeeds, it sends a message to every judge on every court in California and really beyond …. A lot of the defendants are young people, and mostly males, of color — Latino and African-American. They are the ones who are going to receive the sentencings of these judges who are going to be hesitant, if not fearful, to impose a leniency in a sentence.”
Cordell’s concern is worth considering, but it doesn’t mean judges like Persky shouldn’t be removed for letting a rapist off with a laughably lenient sentence. Let’s remember what Turner was convicted of, a total of three felonies: sexual assault of an unconscious person, sexual assault of an intoxicated person, and sexual assault with intent to commit rape. Persky felt six months (only three of which were served) was an adequate punishment? California voters did the right thing by recalling a judge who had no care for the victim and was sure to protect the rapist and ensure that none of this would effect his life for very long. Justice was finally served in removing him from the bench.
Stanford law professor Michele Dauber, who led the recall effort, sums it up best telling reporters, “This victory is not just for Emily Doe, but it’s a victory for girls and women everywhere. To girls and women everywhere, we are with you.”