Judge facing recall breaks his silence richmond pulse o gastronomo

Breaking his silence on the million-dollar effort to oust him, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky warned that the recall on the June 5 ballot in Santa Clara County would, if successful, have the exact opposite effect of what its supporters are claiming.

Persky has been targeted for recall since late 2016 over his sentencing of Brock Turner, the Stanford swimmer who in January 2015 sexually assaulted an unconscious woman but, in keeping with established guidelines for first-time offenders, was spared prison time and served 90 days in the county jail. For the rest of his life, Turner will have to register as a sex offender.

In a press briefing at a private home in Palo Alto on May 9, Persky broke his silence and confronted his critics. Also on hand to face the large turnout of journalists with their questions, cameras and microphones, were retired judge LaDoris Cordell, Santa Clara University Law Professor Ellen Kreitzberg and others who support the judge.

But, his supporters argue, his detractors have played fast and loose with the facts in a handful of the thousands of cases he’s presided over since being appointed to the bench in 2003, falsely describing defendants in other cases as “white, privileged, male athlete,” drawing comparisons in dissimilar cases and linking him to developments in which he played no role.

He cited two well-known historical cases as examples of the need for justice to remain blind to public sentiment. The first, 1954’s Brown v Board of Education Supreme Court case that ended school segregation, was adjudicated at a time when much of society supported segregation ꟷ often at the point of a gun.

Asked why as criticism mounted he had remained silent, Perksy said he believed judges should accept criticism of their decisions and not respond to a difference of opinion. But the recall effort takes it a step too far, he said. If successful, “it threatens the integrity of our criminal justice system.”

Persky’s sentencing of Turner adhered to the recommendations of Santa Clara Chief Probation Officer Laura Garnette, whose report on the case, https://tinyurl.com/Turnerprobationreport , included statements from the victim urging counseling over incarceration for Turner and concluded: “In the case, a moderate county jail sentence, formal probation, and sexual offender treatment is respectfully recommended.”

But the criticism has gone so far that Persky’s name has become a part of speech in judicial circles, said Cordell, who ardently opposes the recall, citing a Los Angeles judge’s statement about a difficult case: “I don’t want to become the DUI Persky.”

A moving statement to the court by Turner’s victim led to the case becoming a cause celebre nationwide, with Vice President Joe Biden among those weighing in to support the unnamed woman Turner had assaulted after leaving a frat party on the Stanford campus and finding her unconscious and lying near a Dumpster.

Acting with unusual velocity, California in late 2016 toughened its laws on sex assault to include minimum prison sentences and broaden the legal definition of rape, despite widespread concern that this would disproportionately affect low-income and minority defendants and could make victims reluctant to accuse assailants they know ꟷ the most common category of sex abuser.

Stanford law Professor Michele Dauber, a friend of the victim’s family, initiated the recall campaign against Persky in 2016. So far, the campaign has raised more than $1 million in donations, including $221,000 from Los Altos psychiatrist Karla Jurvetson, who did not return a call seeking comment. Persky’s supporters have raised less than $100,000 to counter that effort.

The money and effort spent in “scapegoating” Persky in the recall drive, she said, would have been better spent supporting victims with counseling, shelters and services, processing the backlog of rape kits police have collected, or advocating for a justice system that is more equitable in prosecuting and sentencing of people of color.

“That center is at my law school and it came to no such conclusion,” Chemerinsky wrote in an opinion piece for the Sacramento Bee. “The center did a report on the history of recalls, but the report said no such thing about the effect of recalls on judicial independence.”

Asked what impact the recall has had on his personal life, Persky said, “Negative attention has permeated my life for the past two years.” He said his wife had received flyers in the mail accusing him of failing to protect the community, and his young children have seen their father’s image on posters alongside mugshots of criminals.

He said the recall process is “a little bit of a safety valve” when a judge has proven incompetent or guilty of misconduct, and even said that the furor over the Turner case has had “one positive aspect.” “It’s become part of a larger conversation,” he said. “Let’s use that passion.”

Three separate reviews by the California Commission on Judicial Performance, the Associated Press and the Santa Clara County Bar Commission found the judge consistently hewed to established guidelines in his sentencing, including in the Turner case.