California Judge Overruled


Former Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky was recalled on Tuesday, June 5. Graphic Credit: Joshua Sanchez/SAC.Media.

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge, Aaron Persky, 56, was recalled from his position on Tuesday, June 5’s primary ballot. Voters approved the decision by 60.08 percent with 116,373 votes.

This judicial recall means that Persky’s term has ended before re-election. Persky was removed due to a movement started by Maria Ruiz’s petition to impeach him following a decision he made on a case.

This movement was further spearheaded by Stanford professor Michele Dauber who runs and is a chair of the Recall Persky campaign and subsequent website.

The petition gathered 1,324,604 supporters for an impeachment of the judge, but online petitions do not equate to the real 116,373 votes in the primary.

Persky was removed from his position for his ruling on one case in particular, though those calling for his removal cited subsequent cases in which he issued lesser sentences.

The case was People v. Turner, a 16 day trial from March 14 to March 30 in 2016, concerning defendant Brock Turner, a former Stanford University swimmer. He allegedly sexually assaulted an unconscious “Emily Doe” behind a dumpster.

The maximum sentence would have been 14 years, but the judge sentenced him for six months, and he only served three before being released in September 2016.

Persky was a Deputy District Attorney who prosecuted sex crimes before his appointment to the bench in 2003 by Gov. Gray Davis.  The action of lessening the sentence became an even more controversial decision.

As a result of this decision, the vote to recall took place.

Some were happy with the decision to recall the judge.

“We voted that sexual violence, including campus sexual violence, must be taken seriously by our elected officials, and by the justice system,” Dauber said.

Others were uneasy with the precedent it may set.

“Following the law isn’t necessary popular and judges need some form of insulation from public perception,” Alicia Bannon, an NYU law school professor said.

Regardless of the difference in opinion by people, the decision was made to remove him from the Santa Clara County bench, ending his 16-year career abruptly.