When I volunteered to manage the campaign to recall Judge Aaron Persky as a pro-bono political consultant, I knew how difficult it would be. After all, there’s a reason no judge in California has been recalled in 85 years. It’s nearly impossible – logistically, politically and financially.
But I also knew, as a father, that Persky’s horrible decision in the Brock Turner case was so egregious that I had no choice but to help right this wrong. And that meant attacking one of the pillars of what has become known as “rape culture”: a judicial system that has coddled sexual abusers and thereby enabled the pervasive mistreatment of women in our society.
Now, thanks to thousands of volunteers, 95,000 Santa Clara County residents have signed petitions to recall Persky. In so doing, they have sent a resounding message – time’s up for judges, too.
Unfortunately, Professor Erwin Chemerinsky wants us to believe that the Persky Recall poses a threat to judicial independence. His argument for Persky ignores the political and financial realities of executing a successful campaign to recall a judge. Recalls don’t grow on trees. More importantly, elected judges are, by definition, accountable to voters.
Chemerinsky’s entire argument in support of Persky rests on his false assertion that the recall effort is due to a single decision. The truth is Persky has exhibited a pattern of bias in favor of sex abusers, especially those who are athletes or upper class. In one case, Persky allowed two student athletes convicted of violently attacking women to play football instead of going to jail. In another case, he allowed a high-tech engineer who brutally beat his fiancee to serve jail on the weekends, and once sentenced a white man convicted of felony child pornography to only four days in jail.
Meanwhile, Persky sentenced a poor Latino man to three years in jail for a very similar crime to that committed by Brock Turner.
Why? Because Turner was a white, privileged Stanford athlete – just like Aaron Persky. So much for judicial independence.
Californians deserve judges who protect victims – not rapists. It’s been 85 years. Time’s up.
Originally posted in the Sacramento Bee by John Shallman. Read it here.