California’s June election will include a measure to recall a Santa Clara County judge who issued a controversial sentence to a Stanford swimmer convicted of sexual assault, according to the county’s Registrar of Voters.
The campaign to recall Judge Aaron Persky surpassed the 58,634-signature requirement to be placed on the next statewide election ballot based on a sample count, registrar officials said Tuesday.
“This campaign is part of a national social movement to end impunity for privileged perpetrators of sexual assault and violence against women,” said Michele Dauber, a Stanford law professor leading the recall. “Judge Persky has exhibited a long pattern of bias with respect to these crimes and has demonstrated he has not taken them seriously. That is why I am confident the voters will recall him in June of 2018.”
Persky sentenced former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner to six months in jail in June 2016, after the latter was found guilty of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman by a dumpster outside of a fraternity party on the college campus in January 2015.
The judge’s ruling in the Turner case sparked outrage locally and nationwide. The former Stanford swimmer was released from jail after just three months, drawing the ire of former Vice President Joe Biden, who penned an open letter to the assault survivor. He said that she had been failed by many people and institutions.
Prosecutors, at the direction of District Attorney Jeff Rosen, had argued that Turner should spend six years in state prison. Rosen criticized the judge’s decision as too lenient, but he has also come out against the recall, noting that it could hurt judicial independence.
If voters decide to oust Persky in this summer’s election, it will mark the first recall of a California judge in 87 years. There will be two items on the ballot: one asking voters whether Persky should be recalled and one asking voters which candidate should replace him in the bench.
Only one person, Santa Clara County assistant district attorney Cindy Hendrickson, has publicly announced her candidacy. If a majority opposes the recall, however, the question of who should replace Persky would be moot.
Elizabeth Pipkin, an attorney for Persky, wrote in an email Tuesday that she believed the recall effort was unconstitutional.
“The recall effort does not comply with the California Constitution,” Pipkin wrote, without elaborating on how it violated laws. “It’s unlawful, and in defending the Constitution and the independence of judges, we are protecting the rights of all citizens.”
Originally posted in SF Gate by Jenna Lyons. Read it here.