Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky was recalled in Tuesday’s election in California. That marks the first time a judge has been removed from the bench in the Golden State since 1932.
The reason Persky has become so unpopular stems from a ruling he issued in a very public case in 2016. Brock Turner, a Stanford University student who had been found guilty of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman outside of a campus party, was sentenced to a mere six months in prison by Judge Persky. The lenient sentencing outraged the nation and resulted in people showing up at the polls to take care of business.
News of the vote went viral on Twitter:
Aaron Persky, the California judge that sentenced Brock Turner to six months in jail for sexually assaulting a young woman, will be removed from office after a recall. He is the first California judge to be recalled from office since 1932. https://t.co/Fx6r2GZkW9 pic.twitter.com/DtoBDODZD1
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) June 6, 2018
Yesterday at the polls, 59 percent of the voters chose to recall Persky:
With 39 percent of precincts reporting, 59 percent of the county’s voters favored recalling Persky and 41 percent opposed the recall.
— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) June 6, 2018
The removal of the judge from his post following such a lenient sentencing for such a serious offense affected women everywhere.
"I think the eyes of women all over the world have been on Santa Clara County tonight," said Michele Dauber, a Stanford Law professor who led the campaign to repeal Judge Aaron Perksy.https://t.co/COXolmNMqJ
— Supriya Yelimeli (@SupriyaYelimeli) June 6, 2018
There was, of course, speculation online as to why Persky lost his job:
LaDoris Cordell, a former Santa Clara County judge said the vote sends a message to judges that “if they don’t go along with popular opinion they can lose their job.”
NO, it sends a message that if judges don't exercise moral prudence in their verdicts, they can lose their job. https://t.co/7OXFwfmO59
— MaryLouise Torres (@Emmluu) June 6, 2018
No joy in this result. I just hope other judges see it right—as a rebuke to dispensing separate, unequal justice to the privileged few, rather than a rebuke to leniency generally or a call for more incarceration. https://t.co/c7gpFZNk3s
— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) June 6, 2018
The results of the election leave some people struggling with the decision, despite disagreeing with the sentence Persky issued to Turner:
I hated his decision re: Brock Turner, but am really uncomfortable/conflicted with/about the whole recall notion…
— Sophie M. Hayward (@sophmiddlebrook) June 6, 2018
Ultimately, what many wanted from this incident is for judges to take violence against women more seriously:
How do you feel about the judge being recalled?