Voters Recall Judge Aaron Persky in 'Stanford Rape Case'

By William Vogeler, Esq. on June 06, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Reacting to a widely controversial sentence, Californians voted to recall a judge who sentenced a man to six months in jail for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman.

Aaron Persky, a Santa Clara County judge, drew national attention after a jury convicted Brock Turner of three felony charges in 2016. According to reports, Turner sexually assaulted a woman who had passed out drunk near a dumpster.

As precincts closed Tuesday, nearly 60 percent of the voters decided to recall the judge. It was the first time Californians have recalled a judge in more than 80 years.

"Stanford Rape Case"

Turner, a student and swimmer at Stanford University, served three months of his term before being released on probation. His case is on appeal.

Perksy, who served on the superior court since 2003, was re-elected for a six-year term in 2016. He told CNN last week that it would "set a dangerous precedent" for judges in the future if he were recalled.

"I think generally judges should accept criticism," Persky said. "They should accept responsibility for rulings. But when it gets to the step of a recall -- actually recalling a judge primarily based on one decision -- that, for me, is a step too far."

Declining to speak in particular about the Turner case, Persky said he decided to speak out because "it threatens the independence of judges in California and perhaps even the nation."

Independent Judiciary

Robert Tembeckjian, administrator and counsel to the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, said that the California Commission on Judicial Performance answered the outcry against Persky and concluded he acted lawfully.

"For its trouble, the California Commission was subjected to fierce political criticism and an investigation by the State Auditor, which tried to pry into its case files, perhaps seeking to uncover other instances of supposedly 'lenient' treatment of judges by the commission," he said.

In his speech to new judges, Tembeckjian said there may be "no state interest more compelling than the independence, impartiality and integrity of the judiciary."

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