Update: Michelle Dauber, chair of the Recall of Judge Aaron Persky, has issued a statement in response to his statement, below.
"Judge Persky did not just make a single bad decision," Dauber said, in part. "He made a slew of bad decisions involving sex crimes and violence against women..."
Dauber continues, saying that other judges are being "short-sighted" in their defense of Persky. "The single biggest threat to judicial independence is a biased judge like Judge Persky, because his bias diminishes public confidence in the justice system."
This story was originally published on July 1, 2017.
In January 2015, Brock Turner was arrested for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. He was caught in the act by two fellow Stanford students who were able to hold him until law enforcement arrived. As this case as it made its way from news outlet to news outlet, we were appalled when we read the statement addressing Turner made by the woman he victimized, who chose to remain anonymous. The general public was shocked and outraged when at the end of the trial Brock Turner received a six-month sentence, for which he would serve only half the time.
Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky is now facing a recall effort over his sentence of the then 19-year-old Turner. In initial justification of his decision, Persky made the now infamous statement that "a prison sentence would have a severe impact on him." He believed that, despite his actions, Turner would not be a danger to others.
Persky has experienced significant ramifications as a result of the way he adjudicated the assault case. In June 2016, right after Judge Persky presided over the Stanford rape case, the Santa Clara District Attorney's Office filed a motion to have him disqualified from overseeing another sexual assault case where a woman was assaulted by her male nurse while anesthetized.
Now, just over a year after Brock Turner was sentenced, Persky is speaking publicly in defense of his decision. He filed a statement with the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters saying, "California law requires every judge to consider rehabilitation and probation for first-time offenders."
“As a judge, my role is to consider both sides,” Persky says in the statement. “It’s not always popular, but it’s the law and I took an oath to follow it without regard to public opinion or my opinions as a former prosecutor.”
A group led by Stanford University law professor Michele Dauber officially filed paperwork on Monday with the registrar as the first step in removing Perky from his position as Superior Court Judge. They will have 160 days to gather roughly 59,000 signatures from registered voters to qualify the measure for next year's ballot.