The California judge facing a recall vote due to the unpopular sentence he imposed on a former Stanford University swimmer has launched his own campaign to stay in office.
With his career on the line over his handling of Brock Turner’s sexual case, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky recently unveiled an anti-recall website and started fundraising. The Mercury News first reported the debut of Perksy’s website and fundraising efforts.
“I believe strongly in judicial independence. I took an oath to uphold the Constitution, not to appease politicians or ideologues,” a statement from Persky on his RetainJudgePersky.com site said. “When your own rights and property are at stake, you want the judge to make a fair and lawful decision, free from political influence.”
“As a judge, I have heard thousands of cases. I have a reputation for being fair to both sides,” Persky’s brief statement said.
Persky’s decision in June to sentence Turner, now 21, to six months in county jail for sexually assaulting an intoxicated woman provoked the recall campaign. Prosecutors had requested a six-year prison sentence for the ex-swimmer, but Persky disagreed, saying prison could have a “severe impact” on Turner.
Due to good behavior, Turner is scheduled for release from jail Friday, having served about three months.
So far, Persky has had meager fundraising results. Contributions from 12 attorneys brought in $3,600, compared to $147,000 in the bank for the opponents trying to dislodge him from the bench, the Mercury News reported.
The backlash against Perksy produced other consequences for him. He was reassigned from criminal cases to civil disputes in August. Potential jurors in June refused to participate in a case Persky was handling and said it would be a hardship to work with him, TV-station KPIX reported.
More than 1.3 million people have signed an online petition calling for his recall. To actually get the issue on the ballot, organizers must collect enough signatures from Santa Clara County residents.
The earliest that voters can decide Persky’s fate is the November 2017 election.
Before the outrage against Persky reached full pitch, he was elected in June to another six-year term.
“His victory will be short-lived,” one of his strongest critics, Stanford law professor Michele Dauber, said to USA Today. “I am 100% confident we will recall him. His decision hit every woman in the state of California in the gut.”
This article has been updated for consistency in its terminology regarding the crime for which Turner was convicted.