Update: After an effort to recall Judge Aaron Persky was put on hold, a judge ruled Monday that the county has the authority to remove him from the bench. Persky previously brought a lawsuit claiming he could only be recalled at the state level, but those gathering signatures to put the issue on the local ballot next June can now continue.
This story was originally published on December 19, 2016.
An event that totally shook 2016 was the case of Brock Turner. One of the more frustrating parts of the case was Judge Aaron Persky, who sentenced Turner to just six months in prison (only half of which he served) for three felony sexual assault charges. Many thought this was an indication of some kind of judicial misconduct, but a panel says otherwise.
Some things to remember: Turner faced up to 14 years in prison, and prosecutors sought a six-year sentence. Instead, he was given a short-term sentence in a county jail, because Persky worried prison would have a “severe impact” on Turner. The Huffington Post reports that the Commission on Judicial Performance found no misconduct in the judge's sentencing.
“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 in judicial misconduct warranting discipline,” read their official statement.” [T]he sentence was within the parameters set by law and was therefore within the judge’s discretion.”
The panel stresses that their investigation was not about the length of the sentence. “The commission is not a reviewing court ― it has no power to reverse judicial decisions or to direct any court to do so," they explained. “It is not the role of the commission to discipline judges for judicial decisions unless bad faith, bias, abuse of authority, disregard for fundamental rights, intentional disregard of the law, or any purpose other than the faithful discharge of judicial duty is established by clear and convincing evidence.”
However, dissenters aren't discouraged.
“This report simply highlights what we have been saying from the beginning, which is that a petition for judicial discipline was not the correct venue to address these concerns, and the recall is the only realistic way to remove Judge Persky from office,” Michele Dauber, Recall Judge Aaron Persky campaign chairwoman said. “Under the California constitution, Judge Persky is an elected official and voters have the right to decide whether he should continue to serve on the bench for the next six years.”